How to Nationally Trademark a Name

By Karyn Maier

A trademark demonstrates the exclusive right to use a specific mark in trade or commerce. The United States Patent and Trademark Office defines a mark as a symbol, design, word or name or any combination thereof. Although the right to use a trademarked name is established through legitimate use in business, national registration provides additional benefits such as the right to bring legal action against unauthorized use of the name.

Step 1

Determine eligibility of the name for national trademark registration. A name is eligible for trademark registration based on its use in lawful commerce or trade between states or with a foreign country. Specifically, the name must appear on goods or products transported or sold, or used in the sale or advertising of a service.

Step 2

Identify the type of trademark registration needed. If the name is used to render a service, then a service mark registration may be in order. Although the word “trademark” is a blanket term used to refer to service marks and trademarks, it technically pertains to the use of a name as it relates to a product and the former refers to the use of a name in providing a service. A scenario in which a service mark applies is a musical group that uses a name to advertise and sell tickets to a live performance. However, the application process to register on the national principal register is the same for both trademarks and service marks.

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Step 3

Search the Trademark Electronic Search System online database, or TESS, to make sure no one else has claimed the name as a trademark. Your search will locate previously registered trademarks, if any, as well as pending applications for registration.

Step 4

Use the Trademark Electronic Application System, or TEAS, to complete and file a trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office online. Your application fee will vary depending on factors such as how you file your application and how many classes you select.

Step 5

Check on the status of your application with the online Trademark Application and Registration Retrieval system, or TARR, every 3 months. If the trademark office has taken any action on your application that requires a response, be sure to comply promptly.

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How to Legally Trademark a Band Name



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Copyright law does not permit you to protect your performing name, as copyright law only allows for the protection of computer software and dramatic, literary and other artistic works. Although it is not possible to copyright your performing name, you may trademark your performing name in order to protect your rights. It will be easier to trademark your performing name if your performing name is an arbitrary name such as Led Zeppelin or Slayer. However, if you intend to use your own name you may still proceed to apply for a trademark, but you will need to prove that your name has acquired secondary meaning in the eyes of the public.

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A catchphrase is a slogan or tagline that identifies a person, group or business. Often introduced into pop culture by a memorable line spoken in film or on television, a catchphrase is “catchy” because the association with a product, service or personality is indelible. It’s a unique signature – as long as no one else has used it previously. Although your catchphrase is protected as soon as you begin using it for business, registering offers additional protection.

How to Obtain a Trademark

You obtain a trademark by using a logo, word, slogan or design that is associated with a product or service provided by your business. The key to establishing a trademark is using it actually and continually in commerce. The strength of your trademark rights depends on the uniqueness of your trademark, how long it has been in use and the size of the geographical area where the trademark is used. Although not legally required, registering your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) provides the maximum legal rights and protection for your trademark.

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