Online Trademark Application
Protect your trademark, quickly and easily
File for trademark protection today, without the hassle. The Online Trademark Application is easy, thorough -- and you don't have to pay until you're done. With the Online Trademark Application, you'll get much more than just a trademark application, including:
- practical help on every screen -- throughout the interview, we guide you through the process, explain the law, and answer common questions
- easy image uploading
- a guide to acquiring and maintaining trademark rights
- three useful agreements, with instructions
- and much more!
When you're finished, you'll receive a summary of your "Trademark/Servicemark Application, Principal Register" filing with the USPTO, as well as detailed instructions on what to do as your application is processed. For more information, download Nolo's Guide to Trademark Applications -- free!
Save on legal fees and time with the Online Trademark Application. Don't delay, protect your mark now!
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Please note We believe accurate, plain-English legal information should help you solve many of your own legal problems. But it's not a substitute for personalized advice from a knowledgeable lawyer. If you want the help of a trained professional-- and we'll always point out situations in which we think that's a good idea-- consult an attorney licensed to practice in your state.
FAQs About Trademarks
- What is a trademark or service mark?
- How do trademarks differ from copyrights?
- How do trademarks differ from patents?
- What are the benefits of federally registering a trademark?
- How does a trademark qualify for federal registration?
- What types of trademarks are eligible for federal registration?
- What types of trademarks are ineligible for federal registration?
- What is trade dress?
- How long does federal trademark registration last?
- How do I conduct a trademark search?
- Where can I learn more about trademarks?
FAQs About Applying for a Trademark with Nolo's Online Trademark Application
- How do I apply for federal trademark registration?
- What questions will I have to answer to file my application?
- How much will it cost to apply for a trademark?
- How long will it take for my trademark application to be filed?
- What happens after I pay?
- Will Nolo review my application or correspond with the USPTO on my behalf?
- What else must I do if I filed an intent-to-use (ITU) application?
- What happens next if the USPTO decides that a mark is eligible for federal registration?
- What are the chances of my application sailing through the USPTO without objection?
- What happens next if the USPTO rejects my application?
- Do I need a lawyer to file a trademark application?
- Can I file a trademark application outside of the United States?
What is a trademark or service mark?
A trademark is a distinctive word, phrase, logo, domain name, graphic symbol, slogan, or other device that is used to identify the source of a product and to distinguish a manufacturer's or merchant's products from others. Some examples are Nike for sports apparel, Gatorade for beverages, and Microsoft for software. A service mark does the same thing as a trademark, but while trademarks promote products, service marks promote services and events. Some familiar service marks are: Google (online searching services), Netflix (video rental service), and the FedEx logo (delivery services).
In order to be eligible for trademark protection, a word or phrase must be "distinctive" -- unique enough to help customers recognize a particular product in the marketplace -- rather than generic, like "The Coffee House."
Trademarks are protected under state and federal laws. Trademarks may be registered with state trademark offices and with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Although the owner of an unregistered trademark may, under certain conditions, stop others from using a similar mark on similar goods and services, federal registration offers the best protection. That's because a federal registration gives the owner a national priority over subsequent users. In addition, the owner of a federally registered trademark may, after five years of federal registration, claim incontestable status.
How do trademarks differ from copyrights?
Copyrights protect original works of expression, such as novels, fine and graphic arts, music, audio recordings, photography, software, video, cinema, and choreography by preventing people from copying or commercially exploiting them without the copyright owner's permission.
Copyright laws do not protect names, titles, or short phrases. That's where trademark law comes in. Trademarks protect distinctive words, phrases, logos, symbols, slogans, and any other devices used to identify and distinguish products or services in the marketplace.
There are, however, areas where both trademark and copyright law may be used to protect different aspects of the same product. For example, copyright laws may protect the artistic aspects of a graphic or logo used by a business to identify its goods or services, while trademark laws may protect the graphic or logo from use by others in a confusing manner in the marketplace. Similarly, trademark laws are often used in conjunction with copyright laws to protect advertising copy. The trademark laws protect the product or service name and any slogans used in the advertising, while the copyright laws protect the additional creative written expression contained in the ad.
For more information about copyright law, see the Copyright area of Nolo's website.
How do trademarks differ from patents?
Patents allow the creator of certain kinds of inventions that contain new ideas to keep others from making commercial use of those ideas without the creator's permission. For example, Tom invents a new type of hammer that makes it very difficult to miss the nail. Not only can Tom keep others from making, selling, or using the precise type of hammer he invented, but he may also be able to apply his patent monopoly rights to prevent people from making commercial use of any similar type of hammer during the time the patent is in effect (20 years from the date the patent application is filed).
Generally, patent and trademark laws do not overlap. When it comes to a product's design, however -- say, jewelry or a distinctively shaped musical instrument -- it may be possible to obtain a patent on a design aspect of the device while invoking trademark law to protect the design as a product identifier. For instance, an auto manufacturer might receive a design patent for the stylistic fins that are part of a car's rear fenders. Then, if the fins were intended to be -- and actually are -- used to distinguish the particular model car in the marketplace, trademark law may kick in to protect the appearance of the fins.
For more information about patent law, see the Patents area of Nolo's website.
What are the benefits of federally registering a trademark?
First, there are two federal registers: the Principal Register and the Supplemental Register. Registration of a mark on the Principal Register conveys the important substantive rights that most people associate with federal registration and, as a result, it is the preferred method of federal trademark protection. Registration on the Principal Register provides you with exclusive nationwide ownership of the mark (except where the mark is already being used by prior users who haven't registered the mark) and official notice to all would-be later users that the mark is unavailable. In addition, registration provides a legal presumption that you are the owner of the mark, which means it's easier for you to prove ownership if a dispute over the mark ends up in court. Taken together, these benefits make it easier to win an infringement lawsuit and make it more likely that damages can be collected for the infringement. That may mean more money to pay the attorneys, which often makes it worthwhile to bring the lawsuit in the first place.
Registration on the Supplemental Register does not convey the bundle of rights and protections granted on the Principal Register. For example, registration on the Supplemental Register is not evidence of the owner's exclusive right to use the mark in connection with the goods or services, and the owner of a mark on the Supplemental Register cannot utilize the power of the Customs services to stop importation of infringing goods.
How does a trademark qualify for federal registration?
To qualify for registration of a trademark on the Principal Register at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the trademark's owner first must use it in "interstate commerce." This means the mark must be used on a product or service that crosses state, national, or territorial lines, or that affects commerce crossing such lines -- for example, an Internet business or a restaurant or motel that caters to interstate or international customers.
The trademark owner must also be able to answer "no" to all of the following questions:
- Is the trademark the same as or similar to an existing mark used on similar or related goods or services?
- Is the trademark on the list of prohibited or reserved names?
- Is the trademark generic -- that is, does the mark describe the product itself rather than its source?
- Is the trademark too descriptive (not distinctive enough) to qualify for protection?
For information on distinctiveness vs. descriptiveness, see Qualifying for Trademark Protection FAQ.
What types of trademarks are eligible for federal registration?
As a general rule, trademark law gives legal protection to names, logos, and other marketing devices that are distinctive. These distinctive trademarks are sometimes referred to as "strong" trademarks. Strong trademarks come in two forms: They may be "born strong" because they are creative or out of the ordinary, such as Yahoo!, Exxon, or Kodak (also known as "inherently distinctive" marks). Trademarks may also become strong because they become well known to the public through their use over time or because of a marketing blitz.
Trademarks that merely describe some feature or quality of the goods or that are based on someone's name or a geographic term are usually considered to be "weak," and thus unprotectible under trademark law.
However, once the trademark owner can demonstrate substantial sales, advertising, or other public awareness of a weak trademark (known as "secondary meaning"), the trademark will be considered distinctive and can be registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Examples of weak marks that have acquired secondary meaning include Peet's Coffee, Newman's Own Salad Dressing, Bank of America, and Vision Center.
If you apply for registration of a weak (or descriptive) trademark, the Examiner will reject the application and give you the opportunity to move your application to the Supplemental Register instead of the Principal Register.
What types of trademarks are ineligible for federal registration?
In addition to generic terms, the USPTO won't register any marks that contain:
- names of living persons, unless they have given their consent
- the U.S. flag
- other federal and local governmental insignias
- the name or likeness of a deceased U.S. President, unless his widow has given consent, or
- words or symbols that disparage living or deceased persons, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols.
Nor is the USPTO supposed to register marks that are judged immoral, deceptive, or scandalous. As a general rule, however, the USPTO takes a liberal view of the terms "immoral" and "scandalous" and will rarely refuse to register a mark on those grounds.
As previously noted, the USPTO will not register marks that are used only in one state; a trademark must be used to offer goods or services for sale in more than one state to qualify for federal trademark protection. Finally, unless the trademark owner can demonstrate secondary meaning, the USPTO will only register descriptive trademarks on the Secondary Register.
What is trade dress?
In addition to a label, logo, or other identifying symbol, a product may come to be known by its distinctive packaging -- for example, the blue and yellow packaging of the Advil pain reliever box. Similarly, a service may become known by its distinctive decor or shape -- for example, the yellow arches that symbolize McDonald's franchises.
Collectively, these types of identifying features are commonly termed "trade dress." Because trade dress often serves the same function as a trademark or service mark -- the identification of goods and services in the marketplace -- trade dress can be protected under the federal trademark laws and, in some cases, registered as a trademark or service mark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
How long does federal trademark registration last?
Once a trademark or service mark is placed on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's (USPTO's) Principal Register, the owner receives a certificate of registration good for an initial term of ten years. The registration may lapse before the ten-year period expires, however, unless the owner files a statement within six years of the registration date (called a Section 8 Affidavit) stating that the mark is still in use in commerce.
The original registration may be renewed indefinitely for additional ten-year periods if the owner files the required renewal applications (called a Section 9 Affidavit) with the USPTO. Failure to renew a registration does not void all rights to the mark, but if the owner fails to re-register, the special benefits of federal registration will be lost.
How do I conduct a trademark search?
To find out whether you're legally permitted to use the name you've chosen for your products and services, you should conduct a trademark search. To learn details about how to conduct your search read Nolo's Conducting a Trademark Search FAQ.
Want more details about whether Internet domain names or business trade names can be protected by a trademark? See Nolo's Qualifying for Trademark Protection FAQ.
Where can I learn more about trademarks?
To learn much more about trademarks, see the Trademarks area of Nolo's website.
How do I apply for federal trademark registration?
You can file an application with Nolo's Online Trademark Application. You will go through a short interview, answering questions about yourself and your trademark, and uploading any related art. Then we will file your application with the USPTO.
What questions will I have to answer to file my application?
- What is your trademark? Is it a word mark or a design mark? (If you are registering a design mark you'll need a black and white image of your trademark in JPG format.)
- Are you currently using the trademark in connection with your goods or services?
- If you are currently using your trademark, when did you first use your trademark in commerce? (If you are currently using your trademark in commerce, you'll need to upload a specimen -- an image showing how it used, for example, your trademark as seen on a label or a tag. This image should be in JPG format and it must be in color if your mark is in color.)
- What goods or services are you selling and how does the UPSTO classify these goods or services?
- Who owns the trademark and who will receive correspondence from the USPTO about the trademark application?
How much will it cost to apply for a trademark?
The price of Nolo's Online Trademark Application is $139.00 and includes three essential trademark agreements and a guide to acquiring and maintaining trademark rights.
The USPTO's filing fee of $325 is not included in our package prices. This filing fee will be added to your total at checkout.
How long will it take for my trademark application to be filed?
We will file your trademark application within two business days of receiving your order. (In the rare event that the USPTO electronic filing systems were not available, we would contact you immediately and upon resolution of the problem.)
What happens after I pay?
Immediately after purchase, you will receive an email confirming your order and giving you details about what happens next.
Within two business days, we will file your trademark application with the USPTO and send you a package via UPS 2-Day service. The package includes:
- a summary of your application responses
- a letter with instructions about the next steps you can take
- a guide to acquiring and maintaining trademark rights, and
- three useful agreements with instructions.
Once we submit your application to the USPTO, we cannot refund the filing fee or any other third-party costs should you decide to cancel your order. If you have a question after submitting your order, you may email our online filings specialists at firstname.lastname@example.org or call them between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. (Pacific Time) at 800-728-3555.
Will Nolo review my application or correspond with the USPTO on my behalf?
No. Nolo does not provide any attorney review or advice about your trademark application. Nolo uploads your application information and files it with the USPTO, but it does not correspond with the USPTO on your behalf.
What if I want to change something in my trademark application?
You have 90 days to work on your trademark application without purchasing it. Every time you work on your application, your answers are automatically saved in the system.
After completing your purchase, you may no longer go back and change your answers because your order is being processed. You may, however, view your answers by signing in at https://nolonow.nolo.com/noe/index.php, going to Your Home Page, and clicking "Edit" under the name of your trademark application; then click the "Review Answers" button.
Nolo will store your personal information for one year after you pay for your trademark application.
What else must I do if I filed an intent-to-use (ITU) application?
During the application process you may have elected to file an ITU application -- an application used by a trademark owner who has not yet used the mark in commerce but who intends to do so in the near future. If you filed an ITU application, the examiner will review the application just like a non-ITU application -- that is, examine it to determine if it meets the qualifications for registration. However, your mark will not be placed on the Principal Register until you file an additional document with the USPTO when you put the trademark into actual use. This form is called "Statement of Use/Amendment to Allege Use for Intent-to-Use Application." Currently, the fee for filing this form is $100. The form notifies the USPTO of the date you started using the mark and completes the registration process. You must also provide a specimen at that time, showing how you are using the mark. You can file this form online at the USPTO website (Nolo cannot file this form for you).
What happens next if the USPTO decides that a mark is eligible for federal registration?
After your application is filed, an examiner at the USPTO examines it to determine if your mark qualifies for registration. If the examiner determines that your mark qualifies, the USPTO publishes the trademark in the Official Gazette (an online publication of the USPTO). The Gazette states that the trademark is a candidate for registration; this provides existing trademark owners with an opportunity to object to the registration. If someone objects, the USPTO will schedule a hearing to resolve the dispute. If no one objects, you should receive a response from the USPTO within a year. The total time for an application to be processed may range from a year to several years, depending on the basis for filing and the legal issues that may arise in the examination of the application.
In order to maintain the status of a federally registered trademark, the owner must file a statement of continued use and later, a renewal application. The owner acquires additional rights if a statement of incontestability is filed. All of these documents can be filed online. The USPTO does not notify the trademark owner when these statements are due, and if these documents are not timely filed, the federal registration is canceled.
What are the chances of my application sailing through the USPTO without objection?
Chances are slim that your application will be approved without any communications from the USPTO. Few applications sail through completely unscathed. In the event you receive communication from the USPTO about your application you must be diligent in responding. If you don't respond, your application may be considered abandoned. (If that happens, you may petition within 60 days to reactivate your application.)
An examiner may initially either request that you amend your application, reject your application or both. Whether you should respond to a rejection yourself or hire an attorney depends on the nature of the problem and your comfort level in dealing with a trademark examiner. You'll have to weigh both and make your decision. An initial rejection does not mean that your application has been sunk. Typically, an examiner will reject an application for technical (procedural) reasons or substantive reasons. A technical rejection usually can be cured by an amendment to the application -- for example, if you mistakenly listed yourself as owner of the mark instead of your company. You can also easily handle some substantive rejections such as misidentification of the goods or their class. The three types of rejections that can prove more challenging are if the examiner objects because your mark is confusingly similar to an existing mark, if it is a generic term, or if the examiner claims your trademark is descriptive. In those cases, you may want to review Trademark: Legal Care for Your Business & Product Name (Nolo) or seek assistance from an attorney.
What happens next if the USPTO rejects my application?
If you fail to overcome the examiner's initial rejections, the examiner will issue a final rejection -- in other words, the examiner now considers that your trademark is not registrable. In that event, you can: (1) request reconsideration -- that is, ask that the examiner reconsider the rejection; (2) appeal to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) if your rejection is substantive -- for example, if your trademark is considered descriptive or confusingly similar to another mark; (3) file a petition to the Commissioner of Trademarks if the basis for the rejection is that you failed to adhere to procedural rules -- for example, you failed to respond in time to a communication; (4) abandon or suspend the application; or if you qualify (5) amend the application to seek registration on the Supplemental Register.
Do I need a lawyer to file a trademark application?
No. A trademark application does not need to be drafted by a lawyer. That said, if you prefer having the input of an experienced attorney, we recommend that you use a trademark attorney who is licensed to practice before the USPTO.
The best way to find a good trademark lawyer is to get a referral from other people who have used that lawyer's services. The USPTO website (www.uspto.gov) maintains a list of attorneys and agents licensed to practice before the USPTO.
Or let Nolo take the guess work out of finding a lawyer. Nolo's Lawyer Directory provides detailed profiles of attorney advertisers, including information about the lawyer's education, experience, practice areas, and fee schedule. Go to www.nolo.com/lawyers or Nolo's main website at www.nolo.com.
Can I file a trademark application outside of the United States?
Yes and no. When you file Nolo's Online Trademark Application, you can physically be outside of the U.S., but you must supply a mailing address within the United States -- you cannot use a foreign mailing address. Nolo will include your mailing address on your application and the USPTO will use that address to contact you if it needs to correspond with you about your application. Nolo will also use this address to ship the Nolo book(s) that you receive when you purchase your online trademark application.