How to Register a Service Mark

By Louis Kroeck

A trademark is a logo or a phrase identifying particular goods sold in commerce; a service mark, by contrast, is a logo or phrase that identifies particular services offered by an individual or business. The terms "trademark" and "service mark" are often used interchangeably, and the process for registration of both types of marks is identical. Applying for a service mark can be very intensive due to the need to perform a thorough background search to make sure that the proposed service mark is not in use. Before attempting to register a service mark on your own, you should contact an online document preparation service or an attorney for legal counsel.

A trademark is a logo or a phrase identifying particular goods sold in commerce; a service mark, by contrast, is a logo or phrase that identifies particular services offered by an individual or business. The terms "trademark" and "service mark" are often used interchangeably, and the process for registration of both types of marks is identical. Applying for a service mark can be very intensive due to the need to perform a thorough background search to make sure that the proposed service mark is not in use. Before attempting to register a service mark on your own, you should contact an online document preparation service or an attorney for legal counsel.

Step 1

Perform a background search in order to determine if anyone is using your proposed service mark. Begin by searching in the United States Patent Office's Trademark Electronic Search System, TESS. Keep in mind that the TESS system only covers trademarks and service marks registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or the USPTO.

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Step 2

Search state trademark databases, the Internet, phone books and general business listings for service marks like yours. An in-depth search is necessary as someone may already be using your proposed service mark without federal registration, and this could cause potential conflicts or the invalidation of your service mark application.

Step 3

Complete the application for your service mark registration with the USPTO. You may complete the form online by using the TEAS system or you may obtain a paper form directly from the USPTO. Provide the USPTO with your background information, the name of your service mark, a description of the services you will be offering with your mark, and the date you began using your mark to identify your services. You will not be required to complete the logo portion of the application unless you have a graphic logo for your service mark. The same form is used for both trademarks and service marks.

Step 4

Provide the USPTO with a specimen showing the use of your mark in commerce. Any materials showing the use of your mark, including a picture of a sign identifying your business on a storefront, will suffice.

Step 5

Pay the requisite filing fee to the USPTO. The fee is less expensive for online applications.

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How to Obtain a Trademark for a Food Recipe

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How to Find Out If a Name Has Been Trademarked

Trademarks need not be registered to receive legal protection. The process of trademarking names involves determining the current use of the name, service or goods associated with the use, and geographic location, including international locations, of the person or business using the name you wish to trademark. You can trademark a name when your product or service differs from its current use -- and the geographic region you plan to cover is different from the territory used by the current name holder. Researching trademarked names, and names in current use, requires the exploration of a number of outlets and publications, including government and private print and online resources and databases.

How to Nationally Trademark a Name

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.

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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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