Getting trademark protection for your business name, logo or slogans is an important way to protect your work. Find out how to get started with this easy-to-follow explanation of how the registration process works, how much it costs, how long it takes and more.
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updated May 11, 2023 · 3min read
You do not have to register your trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to receive trademark protection. You can obtain a common law trademark simply by using your trademark in your business.
However, registration has several important advantages:
The symbol TM notifies the public that you claim a trademark in whatever you have marked with the symbol. Anybody who claims they own a trademark can use the TM symbol—you do not need to register the trademark with the USPTO. Similarly, if you claim that you own a service mark, you can use the symbol SM. You can use these symbols even if the USPTO refuses your application to register your mark.
The circle-R symbol ® signifies a registered trademark.
There are no rules about where you must place the TM, SM, or ® symbols, but most companies place them in the upper right corner of the mark.
Trademark registrations last for 10 years and are renewable for additional 10-year periods, but you must file maintenance documents with the USPTO to keep the registration alive. If you do not file the required documents on time, your trademark registration will be permanently canceled.
The USPTO website has additional information about trademark renewals and declarations of use.
In addition to federal trademark registration, you can register your trademark with the state where your business is located. State trademark registration can help protect your trademark within that state and is useful when your goods or services are only offered in that state. Still, it does not have the nationwide scope of federal registration. Registration requirements vary from state to state.
by Jane Haskins, Esq.
Jane Haskins is a freelance writer who practiced law for 20 years. Jane has litigated a wide variety of business disp...
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