Trademark Registration In USA
Planning to start a business in USA is a smart move but one must be fully prepared for the competition as well. Securing a brand name is smart move in this competitive market. It can be done through trademark registration in USA. Here we will discuss the essentials for trademark registration in USA.Any sign that is unique and can be used to distinguish the products of one business from another can be registered as a trademark. A trademark can be anything a sign, word, name, color, design, slogan, three dimensional shapes, or a combination of them all. The essential of a trademark is that it must be unique and not similar to any registered trademark in that category or subject matter or any pending application. It must also reflect the vision of the business and should be meaningful.
What Cannot Be Registered As A Trademark In USA?
The authorities have specified certain marks which cannot be registered as trademark in USA. Such restricted items will include:
- Any mark which is immoral to American Standards
- Any term that can encourage disorder
- Any generic term, name or flag of any country
- Flag or emblem designs of any international organization
- Geographical locations and names thereof
- Any mark or name not demonstrating any unique characteristic
What Can A Basis Of Filing Trademark Registration Application?
In USA before filing a trademark registration the applicant must be clear of the ‘Filing basis’. This as the term suggests is the basis on which the application is filed. It is to be mandatorily mentioned on the application.
Following are the options available to the applicant to choose from:
- Intent to use
This is the normal course of action for trademark application where you intent to use the trademark for your business after registration. In this case once the application is accepted for registration by the department the applicant is required to submit proof of use of such trademark. It will be known as ‘Statement of Use’.
- Use in Commerce
If there is a mark that you are already using for promoting your products in the US market then you can apply on the ‘use in commerce’ basis. In case an application is filed under this category you are required to provide proof of first use of such mark at the time of filing the actual application of registration.
- Foreign registration
This is when your trademark is already registered in any other country and you are planning to expand your business in USA through securing your brand through trademark registration in USA. In this case you are required to submit trademark registration certificate issued by that country. If the country it is already registered in is a non-English speaking country then you are required to provide a translated copy of the same attested by the authorities.
- Foreign Application
The last case is when an application for trademark registration is pending in any other country. In this case, also the applicant is required to provide some additional information after acceptance if application like certificate of registration in such country or proof of use in USA.
Trademark Registration Process In USA
Following steps are to be followed for trademark registration in USA:
Step 1: Conduct a Trademark Search
Before initiating the process of trademark registration application it is essential that you conduct a trademark search. This is done to check the chances of successful registration of your trademark. For this purpose you must check if the subject matter of your application is not similar to any registered trademark or pending trademark application in following ways;
- Similar in appearance
- Deal in similar goods or services and
- Is live i.e. actively used for trade and commercial purpose
It is recommended to hire experts who provide such services as this requires extensive knowledge and understanding to conduct an unbiased and proper trademark search. However, one must be clear that a positive result of trademark search does not guarantee successful trademark registration in USA.
Step 2: Prepare and file Trademark Registration application
Once the trademark search report comes positive you can proceed with preparation of your trademark registration application. You can file online trademark registration application through USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS). For availing TEAS the applicant must have a valid email ID for any correspondence related to the status of your application.
Step 3: Provide Proof of Use
In order to apply for trademark registration in USA the applicant must either be using the said trademark or has an intention to that. Once you file an application for registration and it is accepted by the trademark office you will be required to provide a proof of use of such trademark.
Step 4: Final registration and publication
After processing the application the department will grant final registration and publish it in public domain. This entire process might be completed in 10-12 months in case no objections are received from any other party.
Validity Of Registered Trademark In USA
Once you have successfully registered your trademark in USA it will remain valid for a period of 10 years starting from the date of grant of registration by the authorities. The owner of the trademark has an option to file for renewal of their trademark at the end of the 10 years validity period. However, if the owner fails to file a renewal application in the provided time the mark will fall in public domain. And it can be secured by any other party as well.