A trademark is any word, name, symbol, or device used to identify the source or origin of goods/services and to distinguish the goods/services from others. In essence, a trademark designates a particular quality and reputation, which are developed over a period of time.
Registration of a trademark, although not mandatory, is recommended because registration can substantially expand the common law rights of a trademark owner. A trademark may be registered federally at the USPTO if used in interstate commerce. Moreover, a trademark may be registered at the registration office in any of the 50 states where used.
A trademark application can usually be prepared in two to three hours of attorney time. The applicant may file (1) a “use” application or (2) an “intent-to-use” application. Each of these applications has different filing requirements.
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Your brand, as represented by your trademark, defines the way your customers identify your business. If you do not own your trademark, then all your hard work building value into your brand through marketing and providing quality service or products may be for someone else’s benefit.