When you start your business, the name, slogan, and other identifying features you come up with help set your company apart from the competition.
If you want to protect yourself and your investment, it is important to consider registering your trademarks in Texas and with the federal government.
Because the trademark registration process can be complicated, you should consider registering your trademark with the help of an experienced attorney.
In this post, the trademark lawyers at Massingill team will help Texas entrepreneurs answer the question: What are the five steps in registering a trademark?
We can help you with both your state and federal trademark needs. Read on to learn more about how to protect your business’s valuable intellectual property.
Step 1: Search and Clear Your Trademark
Before you register a trademark, you must confirm whether anyone else is already using that mark. This is called a “knockout search” or “clearance search.”
This search will help you determine if someone has already registered the same or a similar mark.
You will also need to assess whether your mark meets the other requirements for registration set by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or the State of Texas.
Conducting a knockout search can be one of the most difficult parts of registering a trademark. Knowing what to search for and how to uncover any conflicting trademark registrations takes practice and experience.
Most Texas entrepreneurs have an attorney assist them with this process. Massingill can help you conduct the knockout search process and complete all of the trademark registration steps.
Step 2: Draft the Trademark Application
Most people opt to file a federal trademark application. A federal trademark allows you to protect your mark across the entire country. Registering your mark in Texas only protects the use of your mark in the State of Texas.
You should speak with an experienced trademark attorney to discuss whether registering a trademark in Texas or elsewhere is the right choice for you.
Registering a Federal Trademark Application
The USPTO offers registrations online through its Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS). There are two different filing options you can choose from, TEAS Plus or TEAS Standard.
TEAS Plus applications cost less but come with more requirements.
Despite the higher cost, many people prefer the TEAS Standard application because it offers more flexibility.
Regardless of which application you choose, every trademark application requires the same basic information. This information includes:
- The name, address, and entity information of the owner of the trademark;
- The name and contact information of the person with whom the USPTO should communicate about the application (usually, you will list your attorney);
- An image or drawing of your trademark if you are registering more than a word or phrase;
- A list of the goods or services your trademark represents and the relevant international class for each; and
- The date when your trademark was first used in commerce.
At the end of the trademark application form, you will need to complete and sign a declaration that the information you’ve provided is true and not misleading.
Registering a Trademark in Texas
The State of Texas grants both trademarks and service marks. Trademarks protect goods and tangible products, and service marks protect the identity of services.
If you are only doing business within Texas, a Texas trademark may be an easier and cheaper alternative to a federal trademark.
However, if you plan to expand your business to other states or have concerns about protecting your intellectual property, a knowledgeable trademark lawyer can help you determine what kind of trademark registration is right for you.
Step 3: Submit the Trademark Application
After completing the application form, signing the declaration, and paying the fee, your application form is ready to be submitted.
After you have submitted it electronically or by mail, you will receive a serial number for a USPTO submission or an acknowledgment for your state application. This will allow you to check on the status of your application.
The USPTO will assign your application to an examining attorney for review within approximately three months of the submission date.
Because the USPTO receives a large volume of applications, the process of initial review for registering a trademark may take as long as six months.
Step 4: Monitor Your Trademark Application Progress
Over the next several months, you will need to monitor your application and respond to any requests for information from the government.
If the examining attorney discovers any issues with your application, you will receive something called an office action.
This action to your application will deny your application, explain the issue and the reason for the application denial, and give you a chance to remedy the errors.
Step 5: Maintain Your Registered Trademark
If the application and review processes go smoothly, then you will be granted your trademark. Now you will need to maintain your registration, or you will risk losing it.
That means filing certain documents and paying fees every sixth and tenth year. For a federal trademark, you will need to declare you are still using the trademark at these points in time.
In addition, you should file a Renewal Application every tenth year to keep your trademark valid and current.
How an Austin, Texas Trademark Attorney Can Help
Trademark registration is an important part of protecting your business’s valuable intellectual property. However, correctly registering your trademark is extremely important.
Our trademark attorneys can help you understand how to register your marks properly without getting bogged down in complexities. At Massingill, we excel at making trademark registration simple.
Keep your eye on the big picture, and let us handle the details. Contact us online today by phone or online to schedule a consultation.