Changing a Trademark Design

By Louis Kroeck

Organizations tend to change their trademark design from time to time in order to give their image a new look. In most instances, when you change your design you will also need to file a new trademark application. You also should carefully consider how to deal with the legal ramifications of using a new mark.

Your Existing Mark

Before implementing the use of your new mark, you should decide what you will do with your existing trademark design. If you plan to continue to use your existing trademark, you will need to file a separate trademark application for your new design so you can protect both marks. On the other hand, if you plan to discontinue use of the old mark, you may consider altering your prior trademark application or notifying the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office that you intend to abandon your old mark.

Alterations

If you will be making substantive changes to your trademark, you will be required to file a new trademark application. Existing trademarks can be changed only for nonmaterial, minor alterations to the application. In most instances, a new trademark design will require a completely new trademark application. You should consult with an intellectual property attorney to determine if your altered mark is capable of being protected by amending your prior registration. If you are able to amend your old registration, this will save you from having to go through the trademark approval process for new marks and from having to pay the registration fee.

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Considerations

Before affixing your new mark to any goods you may sell, you will need to consider your existing inventory and any potential trademark licensing agreements. If you have a large inventory of goods that are identified with your old mark, you will need to either spend money to have rebrand those goods or exhaust your inventory before using the new mark. If you decide to sell goods with two different marks, this could be confusing to consumers. Additionally, if you have licensed your old trademark for use by third parties, you should terminate those licenses before abandoning or altering the old mark.

Filing a New Application

Before trademarking your new mark, you should conduct an extensive background search to determine if the mark is in use elsewhere. Individuals typically hire an attorney to perform a background search and trademark application because of the time and expertise involved. When completing the application, you will be required to provide a specimen of your new mark along with information on how the new mark will be used in commerce.

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