What is a Trademark?
A trademark is any word, name, symbol or combination thereof used by a manufacturer or merchant to identify their goods. Under common law, owner ship of a trademark depends on proof of the earliest use. Federal statutes govern registration of trademarks used in commerce. Registration constitutes notice and evidence of the registrant’s ownership and exclusive right to use a trademark. Applications for Federal trademark registration are filed at the Patent Office. A trademark attorney may be helpful in guiding registrants through the process. Experienced trademark attorneys at secureyourtrademark.com can provide help with registering a trademark as well as represent clients during an appeal.
A trademark cannot by registered if it is identical to one that is already used by another party on the same general class of goods. Registration of trademarks is also prohibited if they so closely resemble another that they are likely to cause confusion in trade. Trademarks cannot be registered if they contain immoral, deceptive or scandalous material. Trademarks cannot include the use of the flag, coat of arms or insignia of the United States, any state or municipality. No name or portrait of a living individual may be registered as a trademark except by the written consent of the individual.
An application for registration of a trademark must include a drawing of the mark. A written application is also submitted which provides the applicant’s name, residence and citizenship status. The application includes a statement pertaining to the applicant’s first use of the mark in commerce, the goods to which it is applied and the manner in which it is used. A filing fee must accompany the application. Once the application for registration of a trademark has been submitted, it is reviewed by a qualified examiner. If the application is approved, the trademark is published in the official gazette of the Patent Office.
Any person who believes they would be damaged by the registration of another one’s patent may oppose the registration. A notice of opposition stating the grounds for opposition must be filed in the patent office within 30 days of publication of the mark. If no notice of opposition is filed within that time, the applicant is issued a certificate of resignation. If there is opposition, a hearing is held by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to determine the right to register the trademark. An appeal from the decision of an examiner refusing to register a trademark may be made to the same board.