Trademarks, Patents, & Copyrights
Dealing with trademarks, patents, copyright infringement and things such as interstate commerce can be difficult to understand for most of us who aren’t business savvy. There are so many technicalities involved such as will your trademark be used only in the state you reside or conduct business in? Or, will your trademark be used in the U.S. only? Internationally?
Then there is the question of whether you really need a trademark at all? Some things require you to apply for a patent instead. The Dept. of commerce agency, the United States Patent & Trademark Office, defines trademarks as something used by their owners in order to identify physical goods or commodities that can be considered manufactured, natural or even produced in which are being sold or shipped using interstate commerce methods (trucks, mail, planes, boats etc.).
Basically this means the brand, name or product is a physical thing that you are selling to people who live outside your state and must have it shipped in some way to them. If your particular thing you wish to have trademarked is only sold within the state, then no trademark is actually needed. If the “thing” is some form of activity or service you provide for another’s benefit, whether for pay or not, then a service mark is more appropriate. Service marks are typically grouped under the broader term trademark as are certificate marks and collective marks.
Prior to applying for any trademark, you should first run a search on the particular trademark you are considering to ensure it isn’t infringing upon an already registered or pending registration of another trademark. You can conduct this search through the Electronic Trademark Search System of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. After doing so, you can then call 1-800-786-9199 to check the status of your search, or simply go to the trademark search retrieval system.
If your search returns no potential infringement or another trademark determined too closely similar or possibly confusing to your trademark, you can then proceed in filing your application for trademark registration.
Filing Fees for Trademark
$275 – $325 (per class) to file your application electronically
$375 (per class) for applications filed on paper
Again, there are numerous complicated issues that could throw a wrench into your trademark plans. You might file your application and receive your trademark registration according to all the rules and regulations, yet still find yourself in a costly legal battle over your trademark, where it is being used or even how it is being used.
It is for this reason that if the trademark holds any current or future potential value, such as if you were to hit it big across the globe and become widely known across the U.S. or internationally, you should definitely consider retaining the services of an experienced trademark and patent attorney. The more the trademark is worth, or more complex it is to apply for and be awarded registration, the more expensive it typically is to acquire.