A trademark is a term, phrase, symbol, or design that distinguishes the origin of products and services. US Trademark Registration can be obtained through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or through common law trademark rights (also known as unregistered trademarks).
Your trademark name must be available and fulfil specific criteria. Search the USPTO trademark search database to see whether your trademark is available.
Federal Trademark Database
The federal trademark database of the USPTO offers information on all pending and registered trademarks. To see if your proposed trademark is eligible for registration, search the database for any marks that are identical or confusingly similar to yours. You can also look for marks that cover a larger range of products or services than your proposed mark. If there is already a registered trademark rights holder with an identical or confusingly similar mark, you will be unable to register your new mark under this name unless the existing holder consents.
For example, if you want to call your new boutique clothes business “Blue Bird,” verify sure it isn’t currently in use by another brand before submitting an application!
The Trademark Office will reject your application if the proposed trademark is “confusingly similar” to another existing or unregistered mark. However, you may be able to overcome this hurdle by demonstrating that your proposed mark has gained uniqueness via market usage or by demonstrating that it has been used long enough to become distinctive (this can take anywhere from three to five years). See our article on how long does it take for a trademark registration to discover more about how long it takes for a trademark to become unique. The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s ruling that Wal-Mart had infringed on Acme’s trademark. The appeal court, however, overturned and sent the case back to district court because Acme failed to show secondary meaning in its mark. Secondary meaning needs the public to identify a given brand with a specific supplier of products or services, rather than only its fundamental descriptive attributes. You may also look for any outstanding or expired registrations or applications.
This is handy if you want to check to see whether another firm has applied for a trademark that is identical to yours but has not yet been approved. It’s also useful to know whether there are any rival applications pending at the USPTO that might affect your ability to register a mark. If there are no registered trademarks that are identical or confusingly similar to your proposed mark, you can file an application. You must also check the USPTO Trademark database for any pending applications in your category of products or services. If one existing and it has not been abandoned, you must wait until its registration date has passed before filing for yours…?
You can look for any mark that is identical or confusingly similar to yours. You can also look for marks that cover a larger range of products or services than your proposed mark. For example, if you wish to register a trademark for beer and search for “beer,” it might be more effective to search for “alcoholic drinks” rather than “beer” because there may be fewer results returned in this area.
Because searching is free, don’t waste money on an expensive tool when you can utilise the free one!
To be protected, a trademark must be unique. A distinguishing mark is one that serves to identify the source of a goods without first identifying the thing. A phrase that simply identifies a product’s quality (such as its colour) will not be considered unique. Instead, when employed as a mark, it must take on a new meaning that is distinct from its usual meaning.
Acme Products Co., Inc., for example, sued Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in 1992, claiming that Wal-use Mart’s of “Great Value” infringed on Acme’s registered “Great Value” trademark. The trial court agreed with Acme and ordered Wal-Mart to stop using its Great Value mark; however, on appeal by Wal-Mart, both parties agreed that there was no likelihood of confusion between them because no evidence was presented at trial showing actual confusion between products sold under these respective marks or any possibility of confusion among consumers regarding which company manufactured or distributed each item marketed under these respective trademarks (and therefore no infringement).
If the proposed trademark incorporates industry words or graphics that are descriptive of the goods, it may be more difficult to protect your brand from rivals. However, certain types of marks, such as suggestive marks, will be simpler to gain protection for since suggestive phrases are intrinsically unique.
Trademark protection is based on distinctiveness (a legal word), which implies that a mark must be distinguishable from others in the same business. In order for a proposed trademark to be regarded unique and protected, you should examine whether consumers would identify your proposed mark with your product or service if they saw it used by another firm in the same industry as yours.
Do you still have questions? Reread this article for a better understanding of USPTO Trademark Filing .