Registering a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) is an important process that can confer significant rights on the holder of the registered trademark. Despite the importance and gravity of this registration process, many people seek to perform this task themselves or with the help of a non-attorney service like Legal Zoom. While the process of filing for a registration is deceptively simple (it is an online form accessible to the public), the implications to your brand are significant. Failure to properly research and file your application can lead to consequences ranging from the rejection of the application all the way to a trademark infringement lawsuit by a senior user. This is not a process that should be taken lightly.
The requirement to register a mark have been discussed here. However, while that article discusses the general legal principles for registration, it does not discuss the practicalities of the registration process. Importantly, before filing an applicant will want to do a trademark search to ensure that the new mark will not cause any consumer confusion with an existing mark. While not required by the online form, this step is critical before making any registration application. Failure to ensure that there are no prior, similar registered marks can lead to the application being rejected by the examiner. Worse, by filing the application, you are admitting to using the mark in commerce. This means that if there is any senior user of the mark, you have now opened yourself up to a trademark infringement lawsuit. This simple online form that you have submitted to the USPTO can now become evidence against you in a federal lawsuit – an admission that you were infringing on the mark in question, including the dates you started your infringement.
Further, failure to properly fill out each of the items on the form can lead to office actions from the examiner. Some of the issues in an office action can be fixed and the application can proceed. However, significant changes are not allowed. Failure to properly fill out the application form can lead to the complete rejection of the application. If an application is rejected, your will lose your priority date and, should someone else register a similar mark in the meantime, you may lose your ability register completely.
At Smith & Associates, we take steps to help find potential senior users of the mark and to help prevent the rejection of the application. Prior to filing any application, we provide our clients with an analysis letter that details potential senior marks that have already been registered and which may pose an issue to the registration of your mark. Further, the letter contains an analysis on the strength of your mark and the likelihood that the examiner will allow it to be added to the principal register. This way, prior to filing any registration or making any public admissions, you can have a clear view of any potential issues your registration may face. Additionally, your registration application will be filed by an experienced attorney, someone who understands the underlying legal principles and the legal significance of each of the questions posed in the application. Finally, we do all of this on a flat-fee basis – charging you a single, affordable fee for of our services.
Registering your mark with the USPTO is an important step in growing and protecting your brand. Trying to do this step yourself or without legal counsel can have severe and costly legal consequences in the future. If you are considering filing a trademark registration with the USPTO, you should contact an attorney at Smith & Associates for a free consultation to discuss your rights and options.