If you’ve been following our previous blog installments, then you will probably recall last month’s account of competitor copy-cat syndrome. We haven’t heard a word from this business since then, mainly because they blocked us on all platforms as if we did something wrong, go figure. Nonetheless, there was a light at the end of the tunnel… we got our federal trademark! It took eight long months, but we can finally say that we have a registered federal trademark in the United States, which gives us the highest level of protection for our brand.
Having gone through the process of obtaining a federal trademark from start to finish, here are a few tips that may help you as you prepare to apply:
Explore the BRIC Patent and Trademark Resource Center
Everything I’ve learned about trademarks has been through information provided by BRIC’s Patent and Trademark Resource Center, which is a unique resource in that there are only three of these centers in Pennsylvania. The dedicated Patent and Trademark Librarian teaches monthly workshops on the various types of intellectual property protections, processes for obtaining these protections, associated costs, timelines, illustrative examples, and resources that can provide assistance beyond the scope of the Free Library. Dive into the resources provided by the PTRC, especially at the beginning of your journey to make sure that you are equipped with accurate information.
United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)
The United States Patent and Trademark Office is the federal agency responsible for granting U.S. patents and registering trademarks. All federal trademark applications will be filed on USPTO.gov, but even before applying, you will also be able to view video tutorials, explanations of each part of the application process, checklists of what should be prepared before applying, and any other relative information. It is imperative to check for existing trademarks before applying because once you apply, if any existing trademarks are found that sell a similar or identical class of goods, you may be denied and will not be refunded the filing fee. All information on preparation, filing fees, searching for existing trademarks, process instructions, and videos can be found at USPTO.gov.
Federal trademarks can take nine months to one year to be granted (if granted) and may be slowed down by various factors including fixing errors on the application after it is submitted (this happened to us), public opposition if someone believes they may have had rights to the applied name before you and challenges your trademark application, amongst many other factors that may arise. The USPTO office is available for questions if you have them along the way, but it’s important to know that the process can be long. If you ever have questions or concerns during the process, you can contact the USPTO office.
Beware of Imposters
After applying for a trademark, you may begin to receive correspondence from third-party, private companies that pose as the USPTO Office with intentions of soliciting money or information. All official correspondence will come directly from the USPTO Office. Find more information here about misleading notices from private companies (one almost convinced us that our application had been denied, and that the only way to reverse this was to click on a suspicious link that did not look affiliated with the USPTO Office). Having knowledge of these tactics may prevent you from exposing important business information and / or sending money to unknown sources.
I hope this information helps, and don’t forget to learn as much as you can about trademarks before you begin the application process by taking advantage of BRIC and USPTO resources.