Trademarks are a word, phrase, design, or another identifying mark that distinguishes the goods or services of one provider from those of another. Though trademarks began in common law, they now have a basis in both common law and statutory law. There are multiple types of marks, including service marks, certification marks, collective marks, and trademarks. Service marks are marks associated with a brand, company, or individual that provides a service to others (e.g. United Airlines). Certification marks protect the logo or symbol of an authority that certifies various goods (e.g. Energy Star). Collective marks are the logo, symbol, or name used by members of a defined group (e.g. AAA). Finally, trademarks are marks associated with a brand, company, or individual that produces goods (e.g. Coca Cola). A trademark distinguishes one brand from another and is often a deciding factor for consumers interested in purchasing a product. Therefore, it is important that providers protect their marks to prevent counterfeits or imitators.
While trademarks are not required to be registered to have some legal protections, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office provides legal protection for registration. Registered trademarks have more legal protections, including the prevention of others using the same or similar marks for related goods and services nationwide without the permission of the owner of the registered mark. Other benefits include having a right to bring a lawsuit concerning the trademark in federal court, granting legal presumption that the filing party owns the trademark and has the right to use it, and using the “®” symbol with the mark to show registration.
To register a trademark, the USPTO recommends that most people hire an attorney like FortmanSpann. Hiring an attorney can save your time and money because the attorney will know how to register the trademark, prepare the application, and respond to the USPTO on issues with your trademark. The trademark registration process usually ranges between 12 and 18 months. It is a complicated process that consists of multiple steps with the opportunity for multiple missteps. If the application is denied because you didn’t fill it out properly or didn’t research the potential trademarks, for instance, the USPTO will not refund the filing fees. For example, a successful trademark must be unique and identify the source of the goods or services. An attorney, like FortmanSpann, can help you evaluate the potential success of your mark receiving registration along with other practical and strategic consultations.
Trademark prosecution is not the same as trademark litigation. Prosecution comes from the Latin word for pursuit, meaning that trademark prosecution refers to the process of pursuing, or applying for, a trademark. If you need legal advice or assistance regarding trademark prosecution, contact FortmanSpann. We are located in Florissant, Missouri but practice law, including trademark law, nationwide. Regardless of where you are located, we can help perform your federal trademark search, prepare your trademark application, guide you through the trademark registration process, respond to a trademark office action, represent you in trademark opposition and trademark cancellation proceedings, and pursue litigation against those infringing on your trademark. If you need legal assistance with trademark prosecution, give us a call or even stop by our office for a free consultation!