older couple meeting with attorney john nelson to do estate planning, wills, power of attorney and health card surrogate.

How do I get a trademark?

First, what is a trademark? A trademark identifies the source of goods and services. A great example would be thinking back to medieval times and your horseshoe had a “mark” on it. As you travel down the path on your horse your buddy next to might comment on your great looking horseshoes. “Where did you get those amazing horse shoes?”

“I am not sure, but it was a guy in the town of Londonberry,” you may respond.

“Let’s lift your horse’s foot and take a look at the mark.”

And, sure enough a mark existed on the horse shoe identifying the blacksmith who forged those shoes.

Today trademarks are the same. When we see the grill on a Jeep, the swoosh on a Nike tennis shoe, or the script of the Coca-Cola name we know the source and provider of those goods and services. Thus, a trademark can be any word, phrase, symbol, or design that identifies your goods and services and distinguishes them in the marketplace.

It is important to understand you do not “own” the word or phrase. Instead, you have the right to use the word or phrase as related to the goods or services.

So how do you get a Trademark?

You may already be using your intended mark and this is the easiest way to obtain a trademark. You will work with a trademark attorney to submit the artwork, or word, and then file the application with the USPTO. Be careful with your selection of goods and services. Each classification costs $250 to file and will require proof of use at renewal time.

A trademark can be sought based on acquired distinctiveness (2f). Or, a trademark can be sought with intent to use or as already in use. In each case evidence of use will have to be submitted. My favorite and most reliable evidence has been magazine or newspaper advertisements clearly showing a date and time.

So why should you get a trademark? To stop others from profiting from your brand. A cease and desist letter must be sent but if infringing use continues it can be considered willful.