What Is the Trademark Process?

Renee Booker

When a business wants a way for consumers to recognize products or goods made by the business, they often use a trademark. A trademark is a word, name, symbol, or device used by a business to identify the business or the goods sold. The trademark process, which is handled by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, is a lengthy and costly endeavor.

The entire trademark application process can take months.
The entire trademark application process can take months.

The first step in the trademark process in the United States is to determine exactly what is to be trademarked. A search of existing trademarks is suggested to make sure the requested trademark is not already in use. A search may be conducted through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). If the requested trademark is not already in use, then an accurate representation needs to be created if the trademark is a symbol.

An application must be filed with the USPTO in order to begin the legal trademark process. While an attorney is not required, consultation with a trademark and patent attorney is recommended. If an applicant chooses to proceed without the help of an attorney, all the forms needed to file for a trademark can be found on the USPTO website. A drawing of the requested trademark as well as a specimen of use, or example of how the trademark will be used, are also required when the application is submitted.

After the application is complete, an attorney for the USPTO will review the application to determine if it meets the legal requirements for registration. If the USPTO finds an issue with the application, the applicant will be notified and given an opportunity to respond within six months. Once the requested trademark has cleared by the USPTO attorney, it will be published in order to allow members of the public to file an opposition to the trademark. If no opposition is filed, or if the applicant successfully defends the opposition, then a certificate of registration will be issued by the USPTO approximately three months after the close of the publication process.

The amount of time required for the trademark process can depend on a number of factors, including the basis for the application, the type of trademark requested, and whether or not there is an objection to the trademark request or an initial denial. The entire trademark process, however, can easily take over a year. An applicant should be aware that fees are required at different stages of the application process.

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