How To Register Your Blog Name As a Trademark

Registering your blog name can preserve your rights against late-comers who seek to blog under a similar name.

By , Attorney · University of San Francisco School of Law
Updated by Amanda Hayes, Attorney · University of North Carolina School of Law

Before you register your name, you should consider two preliminary issues:

Once you've executed these two hurdles, you're ready to proceed.

Before you begin your federal application, you'll need to figure out what theory it's based on. Most federal trademark applications are based on either "use in commerce" or an applicant's intention to use the trademark (referred to as an "intent-to-use" or ITU application).

The Federal Registration Process: TEAS

You'll federally register your trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The USPTO requires you to submit your trademark application online through its Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS).

You can choose to either submit a:

  • TEAS Standard application, or
  • TEAS Plus application.

Most applicants will submit a TEAS Plus application. Both applications are available to use and end in your mark's registration (as long as all requirements are satisfied). The TEAS Plus application is cheaper. In exchange for a less expensive application, the applicant must satisfy certain additional requirements, such as choosing goods or services from a list of already acceptable goods and services. Most applicants find these additional requirements easy to satisfy and will opt for this application over the TEAS Standard application.

TEAS is an interactive system where the user is asked to answer a series of questions. If a question isn't answered or an essential element of the application isn't completed, the applicant is asked to correct the error. You can also consult a help page within the application if you need additional information.

Filing Out a Trademark Application

You'll need to file an application with the USPTO to register your trademark. The online application will take you through various sections. Below are the main sections of a trademark application.

Information About the Applicant

You must fill out basic information about the applicant (trademark owner). The applicant can be:

The trademark owner can also be a combination of these applicant types if the trademark is owned by multiple entities.

If the applicant is an individual or sole proprietor, you'll need to provide the applicant's full name and country of citizenship. If the applicant is a business, then you'll need to provide the business name and choose the state (or country) where the business was legally formed. For partnerships, trusts, estates, and joint ventures, you'll need to list the name and citizenship of all general partners, active members, trustees, or executors.

All applicants must provide:

  • doing business (DBA), if applicable
  • mailing address
  • domicile address (an individual's residence or business's principal place of business), and
  • email address.

You can also list your phone number, fax number, and website address.

Drop-down menus and online help screens are available to guide you.

Identification of the Trademark

Typically, your trademark will either be a:

  • standard character mark, or
  • a stylized or design mark.

Standard character marks: With a standard character mark, the mark itself is protected regardless of how it's written or displayed. In other words, you can use your standard character mark in different fonts, sizes, and colors and still receive trademark protection. For instance, suppose you register "POCKETS OF SUNSHINE" for your fashion blog as a standard character mark. The wording itself would be protected so you can present "POCKETS OF SUNSHINE" in rainbow colors or bubble letters.

Stylized or design marks: Stylized and design marks have limited protections. If you have a logo or some artwork associated with the words of your trademark, then you'll likely need to apply for a stylized or design mark. For example, the Starbucks logo is a design mark. With a design mark, it does matter how the mark is written and displayed. Your design mark is only protected if it looks the same as how you registered it. So if Starbucks were to change the appearance of its logo, it would need to apply for a new design mark.

If you apply for a standard character mark, then you'll check off that your trademark is a standard character mark and simply type in the text of your mark.

If you apply for a stylized or design mark, then you must attach a file (either JPG or PDF) containing a black-and-white rendition of the mark. You must also insert a written description of your trademark in the appropriate box and indicate whether you want to claim color as part of the trademark. If you can, it's often recommended that you don't claim a color for your trademark so you can use any color you'd like for your design.

(While standard character marks and stylized or design marks are the most common kinds of trademarks, you can also apply for a sound mark.)

Disclaimers

Many trademarks include words or phrases that, by themselves, can't be protected under trademark law. These phrases are either too descriptive or generic to warrant exclusive trademark protections. Therefore, the USPTO usually requires that the applicant disclaim unregistrable parts of their trademark.

For example, suppose you wanted to register the mark "MAKING WAVES SAILING BLOG" for your blog about boating and sailing. You'd likely need to disclaim the words "sailing blog" because those words just describe what your services are (i.e. providing a blog about sailing).

The disclaimer means that apart from the use of the disclaimed portion as a part of the trademark, the applicant claims no exclusive right to use the disclaimed words. Using our example above, another person could use the trademark "HEAD ABOVE WATER SAILING BLOG" even though your trademark already includes "SAILING BLOG." Because you disclaimed "SAILING BLOG," other applicants can use those words as long as the rest of their trademark isn't too similar to your trademark.

You should try to disclaim any unregistrable portions of your mark in the initial application. If you don't disclaim part of your mark that should've been disclaimed, then the USPTO examiner will issue an office action requiring the disclaimer.

Additional Statements

If you're submitting a TEAS Plus application, you might be required to provide additional statements about your trademark. For instance, you might need to provide the following information in your trademark application:

  • a list of active prior registrations (typically if these registrations would be considered similar to your applied-for trademark)
  • translation of your trademark
  • transliteration of your trademark
  • any special meaning (such as a term of art, trade or industry meaning, or geographical significance) of the trademark
  • a claim of acquired distinctiveness
  • the relevant person's consent if the trademark identifies a living individual
  • concurrent use, or
  • miscellaneous statement.

You might be required to complete these additional statements based on the application you file and the specific circumstances and facts around your trademark.

Identification of the Class of Goods or Services

When you submit a trademark application, you'll need to both:

Blogs generally fall into Class 041: education and entertainment services.

However, you might find that your services extend to other classes. For example, suppose you run a blog about taxes and tax filings. In connection with your blog, you also provide tax consultation services. You'd probably want to apply for your trademark under Class 41 (for your blog) and under Class 35 (for tax consulting services).

Description of the Goods or Services

As mentioned above, along with the class for the goods, you'll need to provide a description of the blog services. This description is different from the listing of the International Class. If you're filing a TEAS Plus application, then you'll need to choose from the pre-approved service descriptions. You can search for these descriptions as you add goods and services to your application.

You can describe your blog services in multiple ways. For example, you might list your services as:

  • "online publication of blogs"
  • "providing a website featuring blogs and nondownloadable publications in the nature of {indicate form of publications, e.g., articles, brochures, etc.} in the field(s) of {indicate subject matter or field(s)}," or
  • "on-line journals, namely, blogs featuring {indicate field or subject matter or field}."

You just need to make sure the service description is accurate and representative. If you're filing a TEAS Standard application, then you don't need to use one of the pre-designated service descriptions. You can craft your own description. Just be aware that if you create your own description, the trademark examiner can accept or reject it. Oftentimes, for applicants that use their own description, the trademark examiner will issue an office action rejecting the service description and provide a recommendation for how you can change your service description so that it's acceptable.

It might be a good idea to talk with a trademark attorney when you're considering a description for your blog services. A trademark attorney can help you pick the best description that provides your trademark with the broadest protections while also avoiding any registration issues.

Basis for Trademark Application

Using the online TEAS PLUS system, you'll be asked the basis for your application. As mentioned earlier, the two main types of bases for a trademark application are:

  • use-in-commerce (Section 1(a) filing), and
  • intent-to-use (Section 1(b) filing).

Other bases are available, such as ones that apply to international filings. But you'll most likely need to choose between a Section 1(a) and Section 1(b) filing.

Use-in-commerce applications. If you've already started using your trademark in connection with your blog, then you'd file under a Section 1(a) use-in-commerce basis. The USPTO requires use-in-commerce applicants to provide the date you first started using your trademark anywhere and the first date you started using your mark in commerce. Typically, "in commerce" just means when you started using your trademark outside of your state though other uses could qualify as in commerce. You'll also need to provide a specimen (real-life example) of how you use your mark in connection with your blog.

Intent-to-use applications. If you haven't started using your mark when you file your application, then you'll need to file under a Section 1(b) intent-to-use basis. You must have a bona fide (real) intention to start using the mark for your blog. Because you haven't started using your trademark, you don't need to provide any dates or specimens with your initial application. However, you'll eventually need to show the USPTO how you've started using your mark in commerce before your mark can register. If the USPTO trademark examiner approves your initial application and your mark passes the publication/opposition period, then the USPTO will ask you to submit a Statement of Use form showing how you've started using your trademark. Once you've submitted a Statement of Use, the USPTO will amend your application to a Section 1(a) use-in-commerce application.

Regardless of your application's initial filing basis, you'll need to start using your trademark in connection with your blog. Use of your trademark is a prerequisite for federal registration. The filing basis just determines when you'll need to provide proof to the USPTO of your mark's use.

Trademark Specimen

If your application is based on actual use of your mark in commerce, you'll need to enclose a specimen—that is, a JPG or PDF showing the trademark being used on your blog. For example, you can take a screenshot of your blog showing the mark being used in your blog's header. If you submit a webpage or screenshot of a website, make sure you also include:

  • the webpage's URL, and
  • the date you accessed or printed the webpage.

You can include this information on the specimen itself or provide the information on the designated spot in the application.

For intent-to-use applications, your specimen must be filed later with your Statement of Use (or Amendment to Allege Use). The process for providing your specimen in a Statement of Use will be the same as supplying one in your initial application. Though, note that a Statement of Use requires an additional filing fee.

Declaration and Signature

You're required to provide a declaration, a sworn statement, or other verification that the facts in the trademark application are true. You, or an officer of your corporation or association, should sign the declaration. The TEAS application provides an all-purpose declaration that can be used for both intent-to-use and use-in-commerce applications.

Completing the Trademark Application Process

You'll complete the process by paying the fees, authorizing your electronic signature, and validating the application. After you click "Pay/Submit" and your transaction is successful, you'll receive a confirmation that your application was submitted to the USPTO.

Shortly afterward, you'll receive an email acknowledging the submission of your application. Hold on to that email, because it provides proof that you submitted your application and paid the fees. This email can also provide proof of your filing date. The email will contain the serial number assigned to your application. You can use this serial number to track your application's status through the USPTO's Trademark Status and Document Retrieval (TSDR) system.

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