How to Trademark a Title

by John Parker
Registering a trademark is a technical but straightforward process.

Registering a trademark is a technical but straightforward process.

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A trademark or service mark may consist of any design, word or combination of words that identify the maker of a product or provider of a service. Logo symbols and brand names are commonly trademarked. You may acquire legal rights to a specific mark simply by using it in the normal course of commerce – this form of trademark is called a "common law" mark. Formal registration of your mark is not required but it offers considerable advantages. A mark can be registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and/or the patent-office counterpart (usually the Secretary of State) of any state in which you plan to do business, but federal registration of a trademark with the USPTO provides the greatest protection available.

Step 1

Determine whether your title is eligible for trademark protection. Registration for trademark protection is generally limited to brand names, slogans and logos used in commerce. The title of a single work of authorship or creative work, such as a novel, is not eligible for trademark protection, but trademark protection may be available if the title is used to identify a series of such works.

Step 2

Conduct a search to determine whether your title is available for trademark registration. As noted, a mark may be registered with the USPTO as well as with each of the 50 states, and may even be established by merely using the mark in commerce. Before applying for trademark registration, you must search all previously created trademarks to determine whether your title will impinge on an existing trademark. You can conduct this search by using the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Search System (link in Resources).

Step 3

File your trademark application online using the Trademark Electronic Application System, or TEAS, available through the USPTO website. A variety of forms and USPTO-administered registers may be appropriate to registration of your title, so study these options carefully before selecting specific application forms and registers.