A lot of time and preparation goes into your brand marketing strategy, so protecting it from misuse and outside interference is vitally important.
One of the best ways to ensure your brand is protected is by registering a trademark.
How to register a trademark
Registering a trademark may sound intimidating at first, but the process is actually smoother than most think. Visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) website to get started.
Registering a trademark
On the USPTO website, click the drop-down menu under “trademarks,” then click on TEAS trademark filing.
If you’re a first-time applicant, click on the option which says Initial application forms.
Select one of the three application forms: TEAS Plus, TEAS RF, or TEAS Regular.
Provide relevant information on your form, including anything with a red asterisk.
Submit your form and its respective payment.
It generally takes up to six months of filing an application to receive a response.
Recognizing the difference between the three USPTO forms is crucial to getting your application approved as quickly as possible. Below is a breakdown of each form:
This option is by far the most comprehensive.
Applicants will need to provide an email address and respond to any inquiries from a USPTO representative. They must also select their goods/services listing from the trademark identification manual. Finally, applicants must specify additional statements in their application. Such as:
A mark which has already been registered by the applicant, but the names of its owners are different.
A mark including a color, logo, design, or stylized font.
A mark with non-English words or non-Latin characters.
A mark with the name or image of a living person.
A mark that is limited to a geographical area.
That’s a lot of paperwork, however, there are some advantages to the TEAS Plus form.
Advantages: The cost of this application is only $225, making it the most inexpensive. Also, the amount of information provided in this form means it could get approved quicker than others.
Applicants selecting this option must also provide an email address to keep in touch with a USPTO representative. Any additional information needed by the USPTO must be submitted online.
Advantages: The cost of this application is $275, but the reduced amount of paperwork needed to file the form could make the process less cumbersome.
There’s not much to say about the TEAS Regular form, other than the applicant pays $400 to submit it.
Unfortunately, more information is typically required when registering a trademark. So it’s worth following up with the USPTO if selecting this option.
For further clarity, here’s a video courtesy of the USPTO explaining each form and its filing process.
Before registering your trademark
Don’t jump the gun when sending your trademark application. A bit of research will need to be conducted ahead of time.
First, ensure the trademark you’re registering for isn’t currently taken. This will lead to an immediate contention of your application.
Of course, sifting through millions of trademarks is impossibly time-consuming. Fortunately, intellectual property management software automates this job and even assists in the property management lifecycle.
Any trademark that is too vague or similar to other filed trademarks may be contested as well. In this case, it might be worth consulting with an intellectual property lawyer to map out your best options.
Why trademarks are important
Many elements of pop culture and society are defined by dynamic, longstanding brands.
Slogans like “built Ford tough.” Designs like McDonald’s golden arches. Figures like the Dos Equis' “most interesting man in the world.”
These companies made sure to protect what makes them recognizable and unique. They couldn’t have done it without trademarking.
For companies with ambitions to scale greatly, it’s worth registering trademarks and securing brand elements its teams have worked diligently to create. It’s a vital step in securing your brand identity.
Devin is a former senior content specialist at G2. Prior to G2, he helped scale early-stage startups out of Chicago's booming tech scene. Outside of work, he enjoys watching his beloved Cubs, playing baseball, and gaming. (he/him/his)