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A trademark is a word, slogan, design or any other symbol used to identify and distinguish goods. Common law rights vest in a unique symbol when it is used in connection with goods or services. Federal registration of a trademark creates a presumption of validity and reserves the mark over newcomers all across the United States.
To register a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) one must:
1) Select a mark.
2) Complete a novelty search to confirm ownership rights to the mark.
3) Prepare of a drawing of the mark.
4) File an application.
1. Selection of a Mark. A trademark identifies the source of a product. Confusion with other marks is to be avoided. For the purpose of trademark protection, marks are classified as descriptive, suggestive, arbitrary and fanciful. A mark that is too descriptive (for example, "ORANGE" brand oranges) may be denied registration in order to allow continued free use of the term in the industry.
2. A novelty search is a review of registered trade marks and other product name data bases for marks that may be confusingly similar to your mark. Discovery of a confusingly similar registered mark forecloses use anywhere in the country. Another mark should be selected. If a similar but unregistered mark is found to be in use locally somewhere in the country, the prior user may continue use of the mark in that local region but you may register the mark for use in all other regions of the country.
3. Preparation of a drawing of your mark for registration at the PTO may be quite simple. If your mark is a word, it may be presented in block typed form in the application. A trademarked word broadly protects against infringement of the word in all stylized forms. Registration of a specific symbol of stylized word requires submission of finely drafted black and white drawing of the mark. A symbolic mark is narrowly protected against confusingly similar marks of the same style.
4. A completed application consists of 1) the name and address of the applicant, 2) a drawing of the mark, 3) a statement of the goods or services the mark will be used to identify, 4) a claim of use or intent to use the mark in commerce, 5) a declaration by the applicant, payment of a $275 fee (see PTO TM site). A package of all the above items is sent by certified mail to the Patent and Trademark Office. Use in commerce for a federally registered mark means actual commercial use across state lines.
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