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The United States Patent and Trademark Office provides that a “trademark is generally a word, phrase, symbol, or design, or a combination thereof, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the products or services of one party from those of others.” – Basic Facts About Trademarks, USPTO (2019).
Trademark registrations are costly and the Search is a way to make sure your Mark is available before you file for registration. It also confirms whether you should spend the money on filing for registration and be confident about the process.
If someone has already registered your desired mark, or even a similar mark to yours in the same or similar industry to yours, you may then want to find a new and different mark to avoid potentially “infringing” on their registered mark.
- Considerations for Federal Registration When Selecting a Mark, Basic Facts About Trademarks, Protecting Your Trademark, Enhancing Your Rights Through Federal Registration, USPTO, p. 3-9 (August 3, 2019)
Yes! International users who are actively using their Mark in the U.S. and have Not registered their mark, they automatically gain protection under the laws in the U.S. for first use. If such a user later decides to file in the United States, and if you have already filed, they may challenge your filing by being able to show first use in the United States.
However, if that foreign company did not register their Mark and did Not sell any products or services under their Mark, then they will have No protection.
International research lets you know whether or not someone may already be using this Mark overseas. Also, if you plan to sell your goods or services internationally, then you want to make sure the mark is available Internationally and not being used by another company in the same industry.
After researching the mark’s availability and deciding on the trademark that you want to file, you can protect the trademark by filing it in your U.S. State, Federally, and/or Internationally. You may file on your own, or with the help of a licensed attorney.
Trademarks that are commonly refused by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) are:
- Marks that are already registered in a similar class
- Marks that are confusingly similar to already registered marks
- Marks that are merely descriptive of the product or service
- Marks that are a generic term for the product or service offered
- Marks that are offensive
- Marks that are the title of a single work
- Marks that are deceptively mis-descriptive of a geographical source location
- Marks that encompass trademarks of others.
– Trademarks: Getting Started, Process Overview, Possible Grounds for Refusal of a Mark, USPTO https://www.uspto.gov/trademark/additional-guidance-and-resources/possible-grounds-refusal-mark (2019) (last visited 08/26/2019)
If the mark is a “title of a single work,” the USPTO will generally refuse the mark. However, if the title is part of a series (e.g., the work is labeled “volume 1,” “part 1,” or “book 1”) or is a type of work in which the content changes significantly with each edition, issue, or performance, the mark generally will be eligible for registration. – USPTO, Trademarks, Laws & Regulations.
If you are using your full name to identify the producer of a product or service, you may be able to trademark it. However, surnames alone are generally not registered unless a showing of acquired distinctiveness under §2(f) of 15 U.S.C. §1052(f). See Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure, “Primarily Merely a Surname,” Sect. 1211.01 (2017).
Yes, if you are using the website domain name to identify the producer of a product or service, and it is not denied on other grounds.
– Trademark, Copyright or Patent, Basic Facts About Trademarks, Protecting Your Trademark, Enhancing Your Rights Through Federal Registration, USPTO, p. 2 (August 3, 2019