Have you recently created a new company? Protect it by obtaining a trademark right away. This may not be something you think about immediately, but doing this guards your business and your ideas against being used by anyone else. Here are the steps involved in this process.
Create Your Logo or Mark
Once you have registered your company, one of the first things you want to do is create a unique logo or mark that represents your business. You want to design something eye-catching, easy to remember, and distinguishable from your competitors. Marks can include fancy letters, illustrations, and even pictures. If you don’t have specific ideas, you can hire a graphic designer to create different options. Make sure you pick something that represents your product line but isn’t so specific that it limits future product expansion. Since you may not be aware of restrictions and regulations regarding marks, look for a trademark attorney, such as Robin Stoby, who can guide you through this process.
Verify Your Mark is Unique
A federal database contains all the past and currently registered trademarks. You or your attorney must search to compare your requested trademark with others in the catalog. An attorney can review other marks that may be similar and guide you if any changes need to be made. If you use a trademark that is similar to another company’s, there is a possibility that the business won’t be happy about that and come after you legally. This could result in you needing to redo your trademark, which not only costs a lot of money but can confuse your existing customers. Ensuring your logo is unique before it is registered saves a lot of hassle.
Submit Your Paperwork
When you have a mark you are ready to proceed with, go online and fill out the application. Make sure everything is correct because the process can take a few months, and you don’t want it held up due to incorrect contact information. Once the application is completed, an examiner reviews all documentation. It’s their job to review your logo and compare it to all the others in the database. If additional documentation needs to be submitted or the examiner has questions, these updates are added to your file, so check in periodically. If you miss a deadline, it only extends the process.
Wait for Objections
If the examiner approves your mark, then it is published in a weekly journal. At that time, other people can review your trademark and file a complaint if they feel it is too similar to theirs. If no one objects, your mark is approved. If someone questions the trademark, they must file their objection within 30 days, at which point it’s reviewed by the Trademark Trial and Appeal board. If they determine that the mark doesn’t infringe on another mark, it’s approved, and you receive a certificate of registration.
Maintain Your Logo
It’s important to keep your contact information updated with the board and file any maintenance documentation as needed. It’s also your job to enforce your trademark against infringement, so don’t disregard the weekly periodical of new logos.