So you created a catchy slogan, word or symbol for your business–now what? First, make sure that it is unique and pertains solely to your goods or services, so that is distinguishable from the rest. While you don’t need a trademark for these words or symbols, it helps protect you in the long run from other entities creating similar names and also grants more value to your company.
Here is a brief overview of how to trademark a word or phrase:
- Make sure your slogan hasn’t been taken yet. Search the Trademark Electronic Search System, or TESS database.
- If you don’t find any matching results on the TESS database, file an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office online or by mail. Make sure to look it over thoroughly before sending it off.
- Pay the non-refundable filing fee or $325 for an online application, or $375 for a mailed-in application.
- Once you have submitted your payment, you will receive a serial number, which can be used to track progress with, make sure to jot it down for future reference. A response will likely be delegated within five to six months after filing.
It is a smart idea to have an intellectual property lawyer with you during the process to answer any questions or help you through the process. A U.S. Trademark is only valid within the country and cannot be honored outside the nation. If you are looking to file an international patent, consider putting in an application with the Madrid Protocol.
Also, make sure not to use the ® symbol until you have been registered with the USPTO. Once your patent has been accepted, you will have the power to shut down an infringing domain name for a website and other abilities. Five years after your registration, your trademark for your phrase is considered incontestable, and will likely win against any infringement case.