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A trademark is one of the most important business assets you'll ever own. It distinguishes your company and its products in the marketplace. If you would like to apply for a trademark registration, we can help. We filed more U.S. trademark applications in 2010 than the top 20 law firms combined.
Many people assume they can protect their trademark simply by using the mark in commerce. It is true that you are not required to register a trademark to achieve some level of protection and that one may establish common law rights simply by using a mark in commerce.
However, having a federally registered trademark provides several advantages:
Federal registration also allows you to use the ® (the circle-R) symbol. Any time you claim rights in a trademark, you may use the ™ (trademark) or ? (service mark) symbol to alert the public to your claim, regardless of whether you have filed an application with the USPTO. However, you can only use the federal registration symbol ® after the USPTO has actually registered the trademark. Following federal registration, you can use the ® symbol on or in connection with the goods and/or services listed in the registration and claim all the benefits of federal protection.
A service mark is simply a type of trademark. In fact, the words "trademark" and "mark" often refer to both trademarks and service marks. Trademarks help the government and consumers distinguish the products ("goods") of one source from those of another. A service mark helps the government and consumers distinguish service providers from one another.
Common law service marks are accompanied by ? as opposed to the ™ of common law trademarks (although many service providers use a ™ instead). Both products and services with federally registered trademarks can use the ® symbol.
It is hard to predict how long it will take for a federal application to mature into a registration, since many factors can affect the process. Generally, an applicant will receive a filing receipt almost instantly after filing. In addition, you should receive an initial response from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) within approximately three months of filing the application.
However, the total application processing time may be anywhere from 6 months to a year, or even longer. Most applications are processed completely in slightly less than one year. Overall processing time depends on your basis for filing and any issues that may arise in the examination process.
Current status of trademark applications and registrations can be obtained by accessing the USPTO database online at tarr.uspto.gov. To check on average processing times, please visit www.uspto.gov/dashboards/trademarks.
Your final forms, documents and filings may differ depending on your state.