Frequently Asked Questions about Trademarks
There are 10 of our most frequently asked questions about trademarks listed on this page. Most of these trademark FAQ’s a link to more information about that question and/or other content directly relevant to that question. If none of these answer your questions about your invention or seeking patent protection for it, please feel free to schedule a free patent consultation to get you some answers about the best steps for seeking patent protection for your invention. Checkout our top 10 trademark faqs.
What is a trademark?
A trademark is a type of intellectual property typically in the form of a recognizable name, symbol, logo, slogan, word, phrase, or combination that is used in connection with a good or service. Trademarks are used to legally distinguish brands from their competitors while recognizing the company’s ownership of the brand. Trademarks are denoted by ® and ™ symbols. Check out our article on recognized trademarks. A top 10 trademark faq.
How much does it cost to get a trademark?
The cost depends on several factors of the application such as the number and kind of marks, as well as the number of classes of use the owner wants protected. On average, filing fees for a trademark registration application cost $250 to $350 per class per application. This does not include attorney fees. A top 10 trademark faq.
What is the difference between a trademark and a copyright?
Both trademarks and copyrights are types of intellectual property, but they offer different forms of protection. A trademark or service mark protects the identification of the source of goods and services such as a name, logo, or slogan. A copyright protects original works. Each form of intellectual property is registered differently. A trademark is registered at the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) while a copyright is registered at the U.S. Copyright Office.
A registered trademark can be kept active forever as long as it is renewed every 10 years. Copyright protection longevity depends on multiple factors but as a general rule, copyright protection for works created after January 1, 1978, lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years. Works first published prior to 1978 have a different set of more complex factors. There is no need to renew a copyright registration. Visit our trademark services and copyrighting pages. A top 10 trademark faq.
What is the difference between a trademark and service mark?
Trademarks and service marks are very similar and can be easily confused. The only difference between a trademark and service mark has to do with what they each represent. A top 10 trademark faq.
A trademark protects a word, slogan (phrase), symbol, or logo that is being used to distinguish a product. Examples of trademarks include Nike, Apple, Google, and Amazon. Each of these companies offer a product consumers can tangibly put to use. On the other hand, a service mark protects word, slogan (phrase), symbol, or logo that is being used to distinguish a service. They are most often associated with slogans, phrases, or tunes. Examples of service marks include Delta, Geek Squad, and the lion’s roar of MGM. Many of these examples use both trademarks and service marks as they provide both goods and services.
How long does it take to get a trademark?
Typically the process to complete an application to register a trademark is about 12 to 18 months. On average, it takes the USPTO 4 to 6 months to review the trademark application. Responding to office actions can take up to 6 months, but if there are no issues with the application, this time period can be deducted from the 12 – 18 months. The public objection period in the Official Gazette lasts 3 months before the USPTO issues a notice of allowance and issues the certificate of registration, which usually takes about 2 to 3 months.
What is the difference between the ™ and ℠ symbol and the ®?
The difference between the trademark or service mark (™ or ℠) symbol and the R-in-a-circle symbol (®) has to do with registration. The ™ or ℠ symbol is used when a trademark application for a word, slogan (phrase), symbol, or logo that identifies a product or service is filed, but has not yet been accepted. The difference between ™ and ℠ is whether they are distinguishing a product or service. The ™ symbol is used to recognize products while ℠ is used to recognize services. It is not mandatory for businesses to use ™ and ℠ during the trademark application process.
Using ™ or ℠ will not provide any legal protection as the trademark application has not yet been approved. The ® symbol can be used after the trademark application for a word, slogan (phrase), symbol, or logo that identifies a product or service is accepted. The grant of a trademark allows businesses to use ®. The use of the symbol is not mandatory in order to receive legal protection in cases of infringement. A top 10 trademark faq.
How long does a trademark last?
The longevity of a trademark will depend on the owner of the intellectual property and the business itself. A trademark is valid for as long as it is in use. Trademarks are meant to protect the use of a word, slogan (phrase), symbol, or logo identifying a product or service. If the trademark is no longer being used in commerce, another business is able to use it. If a trademark owner stops using a mark and later wants to keep their trademark, they must provide proof of use in commerce.
Trademarks are required to be maintained after the trademark registration is granted. Maintenance is important in order to enforce the legal rights this kind of intellectual property.
What are the restrictions of the “®” symbol?
The ® symbol applies to registered trademarks and service marks. Once a trademark application is filed with the USPTO and during the trademark application process, a business can begin the the use of the ™ or ℠ symbol after the word, slogan (phrase), symbol or logo. A business cannot begin the use of the ® symbol until their trademark application is accepted and a trademark has been granted. The ® symbol represents a trusted product or service to consumers and a protected product or service to competitors. It serves as a deterrent to the competitors looking to capitalize off a known and trusted brand. A top 10 trademark faq.
Is the ownership of a trademark transferrable?
The ownership of a trademark or service mark is transferable. There is a process to change the ownership of a trademark and it begins with a trademark assignment. A trademark assignment is a document signed by the original owner that transfers the ownership of the trademark to the new owner. The original owner is referred to as the “assignor” while the new owner is referred to as the “assignee.” Multiple trademarks may be transferred through one single trademark assignment. The trademark assignment must include the name and address of the original owner and new owner, all specific trademark details, effective date of transfer, and the trademark goodwill.
A trademark’s goodwill is all the positive associations that the trademark publicly creates for consumers. Trademark assignments must specifically transfer the trademark goodwill in the document. The trademark assignment document must be signed by the original owner. It is not mandatory, but preferred, for the new owner to also sign the trademark assignment document. A top 10 trademark faq.
Can a minor file a trademark application?
There are no age restrictions to file a trademark registration application in the United States. State laws may vary. However, there are some concerns when it comes to a minor becoming a trademark owner. In cases of infringement, a minor may need a guardian to sue the infringer. A minor is not able to be a plaintiff in federal court. If there is not a guardian available to sue, the trademark protection cannot be enforced in court. In addition, most state laws would require a guardian be in charge of all business proceedings involving the trademark. A top 10 trademark faq.