When going through the process of registering your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”), you must take steps to protect your trademark to maximize its legal protection zealously.
Before the federal registration of your trademark, you are permitted to add the symbol ™ immediately after the trademark. However, once you receive confirmation of your successful trademark registration from the USPTO, you are then, and only then, allowed to replace the ™ symbol with the ® symbol.
For example, our firm chose to register the mark “The Entrepreneur’s Law Firm.” Before receiving the confirmation of registration, we presented our mark as “The Entrepreneur’s Law Firm TM,” utilizing the ™ symbol. Once we received the confirmation of our trademark registration, we were able to present our mark as “The Entrepreneur’s Law Firm ®,” utilizing the ® symbol.
Furthermore, once a trademark is registered with the USPTO, there are additional steps that should be taken to ensure the rights of your trademark are not lost due to improper use. To legally protect your registered trademark, and to prevent it from becoming a generic term or “ghost mark,” it is important to follow the steps below.
1. Use the Proper Identification:
Once confirmation of the trademark registration is received from the USPTO, the first step you should take is to replace the ™ after your trademark with ®. It is important that you do not make this change until you receive the official registration confirmation from the USPTO. This is extremely important because if you start using the ® before registration occurs, not only would the USPTO have the authority to deny the registration of your mark – and we DO NOT want that to happen – but doing so is also a violation of federal law.
Next, it is highly recommended that you review all of your online and printed materials to ensure the ® is placed after your mark for at least the first two uses.
For example: The Entrepreneur’s Law Firm® is dedicated to assisting entrepreneurs as they start, grow, and sell their businesses.
In addition, you will want to place a notice at the bottom of each and every online and printed material, including your webpage, that the public can see. The following is a sample format you may wish to follow:
The Entrepreneur’s Law Firm ® is a registered trademark of Sheryl Seckel Hunter, P.A., DBA Hunter Business Law.
Once you use the proper trademark symbol, giving the reader notice that the mark is being used and claimed as a trademark, there is no need to continue doing so throughout the remainder of the ad, document, or other marketing materials. To use the symbols every time the trademark is referenced within one document would risk annoying the reader and could make the ad look unprofessional.
2. Use Your Trademark Consistently:
For your trademark to remain protected by trademark law, you must be vigilant and pay attention to how your mark appears on all of your materials. Using the trademark consistently is key.
For example, if the mark is italicized initially, be consistent in keeping it italicized throughout all materials; if your mark appears in a specific font, carry that font throughout your materials; and if your mark appears in all CAPITAL LETTERS, always utilize capital letters.
This allows the public to acknowledge that the term is, in fact, a trademark, as opposed to just part of the text.
3. Don’t Misuse Your Trademark:
A trademark is considered a proper adjective. Therefore, it should not be used as a noun or a verb. The most common mistake is when a company or the general public start to use a mark as a product itself, or in plural or possessive forms.
Utilizing XEROX, for example — the proper way to use the term is in conjunction with the brand of copier, i.e. “We have a XEROX brand copier” opposed to “Please make me a XEROX of this agreement.”
By misusing your trademark as a noun or verb, it becomes “merely generic,” losing its protective rights, which were originally associated with the trademark registration. When this loss of protection occurs, the mark becomes what is known as a “ghost mark,” reminding us of what can occur when a brand name becomes generic.
Trademark law can be confusing, even to experienced business minds. Therefore, please feel free to contact Hunter Business Law with any questions you may have regarding the guidance given to you above, or trademark registrations in general.
For more information on registering a trademark, please contact Katelyn J. Dougherty at Hunter Business Law via email: Katelyn@hunterbusinesslaw.com.
This Blog was written by Hunter Business Law’s Advanced Certified Paralegal, Katelyn J. Dougherty, with advanced studies in trademark services.
DISCLAIMER: This blog is for educational purposes only and does not offer nor substitute legal advice. Additionally, this blog does not establish an attorney-client relationship and is not for advertising or solicitation purposes. Any of the content contained herein shall not be used to make any decision without first consulting an attorney. The hiring of an attorney is an important decision not to be based on advertisements or blogs. Hunter Business Law expressly disclaims any and all liability in regard to any actions, or lack thereof, based on any contents of this blog.