Many business owners and entrepreneurial thinkers would probably like to register a trademark but they think it’s too expensive or that you have to hire a few lawyers to get it done. Not so. Registering your own trademark is fairly easy to do provided you know a little about, well, what you want the trademark to be – That’s it. The process is easier than you might think. Now the office for Trademarks is the same office where you would file a patent, a much more complicated undertaking that I probably would not do without an attorney, but trademarks for the most part are easy, so I wouldn’t hold off on registering your mark if you are interested in securing one.
The most difficult part of registering your own trademark is figuring out which International Class it belongs to. Other than that, the process consists mostly of just providing some basic information on who owns the mark, a sample of what it looks like, if it’s a logo, and/or what the words are if it’s just plain text. Adding some basic contact information finishes it off by just allowing the Trademark Office to contact you regarding updates and its progress. Believe it or not, the cost is only about $300.00. You pay the fee and you’re waiting period begins.
Figuring out what international class it needs to be registered in can be tackled by simply searching for similar trademarks which have already been registered. Each trademark has an international class assigned to it, which basically just explains in what type of use the mark is being used. Marketing services, the food services business, automotive. Each mark needs to be identified by what Good and Services the mark represents. Someone can hold a trademark in a certain industry and another person can own one in a totally different sector as long as it is not deemed to create consumer confusion.
- You can get started by going here: http://www.uspto.gov/trademark
Look for the words “TESS” or a link to something called “Tess”. This is the Trademark Electronic Search System which allows you to search the United States Patent and Trademark Database. You can search both active and dead trademarks. The ones that are LIVE are currently in use. The ones that are DEAD were either registered at one time and have expired, or were never registered before, or the person registering the trademark either didn’t properly finish the process or the trademark was denied. Use this search engine to look up similar marks to the one you would like to register. You want to use the “Basic Word Mark Search (New User)”. This is the simple easy search system. Just plug in some words or phrases of similar brands that have either products or services similar to yours, or what you’re thinking about protecting.
After you have found some similar marks you want to read over them very carefully. I would spend at least 10 to 20 minutes reading over similar marks. You want to pay special attention to the section for “Goods and Services” which begin with the letters “IC” for International Class. This will likely be the most difficult item for you to figure out; which International Class your mark belongs to. Without attempting to walk you through a hypothetical situation which may or, likely may not be similar to what you will be looking for, I feel confident that if you read over a good number, maybe 5 or 10 similar marks, you will know which international class your mark belongs to, or worse case just copy the class of an extremely similar service. This is actually the most difficult part so once that’s out of the way you are looking at basically just filling out an online form and using your credit card to check out and pay your fee. It’s not as easy as Amazon, but at the same time, if you have functioning brain, there is a very good chance you’ll figure this out.
- To begin filing your mark go here: http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks-application-process/filing-online
Choose the TEAS Plus Form (cheaper) if you’re feeling adventurous and confident that you have all the facts and details, otherwise use the regular form, so long as you don’t mind paying more (extra $100) to meet less written challenges. There are even some online videos to help you through the process if you have the time to watch them, otherwise, after you file, it’s just a matter of time to wait for your response back from the attorney responsible for recording your marks and if there are initially denied for some reason, they are usually pretty clear on how to refile with additional information to get it approved. Basically, they’re performing the same search you are when you’re getting ready to file and they’re looking to prevent your mark from conflicting with an already registered mark. If they find one they deem conflicting they’ll object to yours and provide the grounds, if they do not find anything “confusing similar” you’re home free.
I should probably mention that this is not intended to be legal advice. It’s intended to save you a few dollars if you have an interest in filing a trademark on your own, without going through the hassle of finding someone to do it for you , and of course, paying their fees. Good luck. I’ll be upstairs sleeping if you need me.
About The Author: John Colascione is Chief Executive Officer of Searchen Networks Inc. and Internet Advertising Inc. He specializes in Website Monetization, authored a ‘how to’ book called ‘‘Mastering Your Website’, and is a key player in several Internet related businesses through his search engine strategy company Searchen Networks®