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As a responsible business owner, you may eventually need to apply for a trademark to protect the distinctive phrases, symbols and logos you use to represent your company to the public.
Here are five trademark facts that can help guide your decision.
What is a trademark (and a service mark)?
Trademarks and service marks are the unique symbols, pictures and phrases that identify you and allow customers to recognize your particular business offerings at a glance. Trademarks cover goods (tangible items such as shoes, appliances or cars), while service marks cover services (retail stores, legal and medical services, and financial services).
Trademarks are not the same thing as patents and copyrights.
Trademarks protect logos and identifying symbols. Patents protect inventions. Copyrights protect original literary or artistic works, such as books, articles and songs.
Registration is recommended.
You are not required by law to register your trademark. Using the mark in commerce establishes your right to it. However, registration affords you substantial legal benefits and rights. Registration is highly recommended.
Registration also gives you the right to use the federal registration symbol, the circled-R. You can use only "TM" or "SM" to designate your claim to the mark before registration.
Federal trademark registrations must be maintained.
Trademark registration is not permanent. Trademarks must be maintained by filing the appropriate forms before the end of the sixth year after registration and the end of each sixth year thereafter.
How do I file for a trademark?
You can file for a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by using the online Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS). You can also apply using a paper application available by calling 1-800-786-9199. You can also request a form by writing to Commissioner for Trademarks, P.O. Box 1451, Alexandria, VA 22313-1451.
Filing for a trademark is a complex and legally challenging process. You should obtain the services of a trademark attorney to handle your application.
OfficeArrow is dedicated to helping our customers protect and maintain their trademarks. We can help with guidance on how to proceed with your trademark application and advice on choosing strong trademarks.
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