Filing a United States Trademark is different from filing for a copyright or a patent. Any individual considering filing for intellectual property ownership should understand the different types. The trademark application can differ based on the intended use of the trademark. It is important to remember that a U.S. trademark is only effective in the United States and that additional certification is needed for international intellectual property ownership and legal trademark protection.
The first part of the process is conducting an extensive search for possible prior ownership of a particular trademark. Companies often are highly protective of their particular trademark and do not like competing symbols that are slight variations of the company brand. There are also rules governing what can and cannot be licensed. Trademarks are different from patents because they can be registered repeatedly after the enforcement period of five years.
An excellent example of a trademark is the Apple logo. An apple as a piece of fruit cannot be licensed, but an apple with a distinctive mark can. The trademark protection applies to the distinction. Companies often are required to augment a proposed company symbol to make it unique. The research is essentially a feasibility study to determine if a trademark can be established before starting the process.
Once a trademark appears to be enforceable the prospective owner will need to select a filing form. The TEAS and the TEAS Plus are the forms. The application can be processed online, but filing a trademark application can be complicated. Similarities in trademark design are challenged in court regularly. It is always a good idea to consult with an experienced intellectual property attorney before beginning the application process. The filing fee for the regular TEAS is $325 per class of goods/services and the TEAS Plus is $275 per class. The TEAS Plus is a qualified form and carries more restrictions.
Because of this possible conflict it is always important to retain an attorney. Retaining an intellectual property attorney when filing a U.S. trademark application ensures providing the necessary information for proper and timely classification, allowing the trademark to go into use as soon as possible. Maintaining legal representation is also important because the trademark will need to be protected from infringement after licensing. And companies often are not aware when a possible logo infringement may occur because of the extensive use of company symbols in various local markets to establish top-of-mind awareness for their products.
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