What is a Trademark?
A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or any combination of words, or phrases, symbols, or designs, that identifies or distinguishes the source of goods from one party from those of others.

What is a Service Mark?

A service mark is the same as a trademark, except that it identifies or distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product. Generally speaking, the terms “trademark” and “mark” refer to both trademarks and service marks.

Why should I register my Trademark?
Although you do not have to register your trademark to use it or have common law rights in the mark, a federal registration provides several advantages. These advantages include:
  • constructive notice of your ownership of the mark across the United States,
  • a legal presumption of ownership, and the right to use the mark,
  • the right to invoke jurisdiction of federal courts,
  • the opportunity to use the U.S. Registration to obtain trademark registrations in other countries, and,
  • the opportunity to record the registration with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service to prevent importation of trademark infringing foreign goods.

Why should I have a trademark search conducted?
A trademark search provides valuable information concerning the right to use and register a trademark. The search will provide insight into the availability of the mark for adoption, use and registration, including potential impediments to registration, such as whether the mark is descriptive, generic, geographically descriptive or mis-descriptive, or likely to cause confusion with another registered or pending mark.

How do I register my trademark?
A trademark is registered by filing an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The application may be filed online at www.uspto.gov, or by paper by mailing or hand delivering the application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The Trademark Office charges a per class filing fee of $225.00 for a “TEAS PLUS” application, $275.00 for an online application, and $400.00 for a paper application.

What is "use" of a service?
Under U.S. trademark laws, use of a mark in connection with a service means the mark is used in the advertising or selling of services and the services are rendered in interstate commerce.  It is virtually impossible to place a mark on a service, so the specimen of use required for registration may be advertising or promotional materials, unlike the requirement for goods.  However, the services must be rendered, meaning services are being performed, not just advertised and offered.  If no services are rendered, the mark is not in use.  Keep this in mind when applying to register a service mark.  If an application is based on use, and the mark is not used on any of the goods or services listed in the application, the application is void and no registration will issue.  This differs from a fraud claim, because an intent to deceive the PTO is not required.  If you are not sure, it is best to file based on intent to use. 

How long does a trademark registration last?
A trademark registration is valid for an initial term of 10 years. However, the registration will be cancelled after 6 years if the owner of the mark does not file a “Section 8 Affidavit of Use” stating that the mark is in current use. The term of a trademark is renewable for an unlimited number of 10 year terms, as long as the mark remains in use.

What is an “International” Trademark Registration?
An International Trademark Registration is a product of the Madrid System for the International registration of trademarks, which provides one single procedure for the registration of a mark in several territories. The Madrid System is governed by two treaties, the Madrid Agreement and the Madrid Protocol, and is administered by the International Bureau of the World International Property Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. The United States is a party to the Madrid Protocol. The Madrid System allows the owner of a mark, who has registered the mark in their home country, to file a single application, in one language, and pay a single set of fees, to obtain registration of the mark in more than 80 territories. The owner of the mark must designate the specific territories, and the total fees associated with this one filing will depend upon these designated territories. After the mark has been registered through the Madrid System, the holder of the International Registration can extend its geographic scope to additional territories in a quick, simple, and cost effective manner, and will only have one expiration date and one renewal date for all of the territories designated in the registration.

What is an Opposition?
Once the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office approves your mark for registration, the mark is "published".  The purpose of publication is to give the general public notice of the approval of marks for registration.  Any person or business who believes he or she will be harmed by the registration of a mark may file an Opposition against registration of the mark.  An Opposition is administrative litigation that includes discovery, the presentation of evidence, briefs and an opportunity for oral argument.  If the Opposition is granted, the mark will be refused registration.  If the Opposition is denied, the mark will be registered.

What is a Cancellation?
A Cancellation is a proceeding to cancel a registered mark.  A Cancellation is similar to an Opposition.  A Cancellation is also administrative litigation that includes discovery, the presentation of evidence, briefs and an opportunity for oral argument.  If the Cancellation is granted, the registration of the mark will be cancelled.  If the Cancellation is denied, the mark will remain registered.