How to Apply for a Trademark Even if You've Never Tried it Before

How to Apply for a Trademark Even if You've Never Tried it Before


Applying for a trademark can seem daunting, especially if you've never done it before. But don’t worry—it’s easier than you might think. Here’s a quick overview of the steps involved:

  1. Decide if you need a trademark.
  2. Search for existing trademarks.
  3. Choose your trademark type.
  4. Prepare your application.
  5. File your application.
  6. Monitor your application.

A trademark is more than just a fancy legal term—it's a crucial part of protecting your brand. It gives you exclusive rights to use your business name or logo and prevents others from imitating your brand. This protection can bolster your credibility and safeguard your market identity.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) handles trademark registrations in the US. While the process can be complex, having the right guidance can simplify things significantly. KickSaaS Legal specializes in navigating these complexities, ensuring your trademark application is smooth and successful.

Step 1: Decide if You Need a Trademark

Before diving into the trademark application process, it's crucial to determine if you actually need a trademark. This step is foundational for brand protection, securing intellectual property, and fostering business growth.

Brand Protection

A trademark provides a legal shield for your brand. Imagine you’ve spent years building a reputable business, only to find another company using a similar name or logo. Without a trademark, your options for stopping them are limited. Registering a trademark gives you exclusive rights to your business name or logo, preventing others from imitating your brand. This protection can bolster your credibility and safeguard your market identity.

Intellectual Property

Think of a trademark as a vital piece of your intellectual property portfolio. Intellectual property includes patents, copyrights, and trademarks. Each one protects different aspects of your business. A trademark specifically safeguards your brand elements like names, logos, and slogans. This ensures that your brand remains unique in the marketplace.

Did you know? The USPTO defines a trademark as “a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of the others.” This definition underscores the importance of distinctiveness in your brand elements.

Business Growth

As your business grows, so does the risk of others copying your brand. Registering a trademark is a proactive step that supports your long-term business plans. It also makes it easier to expand your brand internationally. For example, once you have a federal trademark, you can apply for international trademarks more easily.

Moreover, having a registered trademark can add value to your business. It can be a significant asset if you ever decide to sell your business or enter into licensing agreements.

Legal Recourse

Without a registered trademark, your legal options are limited if someone uses your brand without permission. Registering a trademark not only provides exclusive rights but also allows you to take legal action against infringers. You can file a lawsuit in federal court and even prevent infringing goods from being imported into the US by sending your trademark to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection database.

Use of the ® Symbol

Once your trademark is registered, you can use the ® symbol next to your name or logo. This symbol not only indicates that your trademark is registered but also serves as a public notice of your rights. This can deter potential infringers from using your brand.

In summary, deciding to register a trademark is a strategic move that offers robust protection for your brand, supports your business growth, and provides legal advantages. If you’re ready to proceed, the next step is to search for existing trademarks to ensure your desired name or logo is available.

Step 2: Search for Existing Trademarks

Before you get too attached to your business name or logo, you need to make sure it’s available. This involves conducting a trademark search to see if someone else has already registered a similar mark. Here’s how to do it:

Use the USPTO Database

The best place to start your search is the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). This free tool lets you search for existing trademarks to ensure your desired name or logo isn't already taken.

  1. Access TESS: Go to the USPTO website and find TESS. It’s user-friendly and designed to help you search for federal trademarks.

  2. Search Thoroughly: Don’t just search for the exact name. Look for variations and similar names. For example, if you want to trademark “Banana Airplane Rental,” also search for “Banana’s Airplane Leasing." Even small differences can lead to an application rejection due to likelihood of confusion.

trademark search - trademark application

Likelihood of Confusion

The USPTO will not register a trademark if it is likely to be confused with an existing one. Confusion can arise if the trademarks are similar in: - Appearance: Look alike - Sound: Sound alike - Meaning: Have similar meanings - Commercial Impression: Create the same overall impression

For instance, “Banana Airplane Rental” and “Banana’s Airplane Leasing” could be seen as confusingly similar because they both involve airplane rental services and share the word "Banana."

Consider Hiring a Professional

If your search results are too complex or you’re unsure about potential conflicts, consider hiring a professional search firm. They can provide a more comprehensive search beyond the USPTO database, including common law trademarks and state registrations. This can be especially helpful in avoiding costly mistakes.

Review Results Carefully

Once you have your search results, review them carefully. Look for any trademarks that are too similar to yours. If you find potential conflicts, you might need to tweak your name or logo to avoid infringement issues.

Performing a thorough trademark search is a crucial step in the trademark application process. It helps ensure your brand name is unique and avoids legal headaches down the road. If your desired name is available, you’re ready to move on to the next step: choosing the type of trademark you want to register.

Step 3: Choose Your Trademark Type

Before you dive into the trademark application process, you need to decide what type of trademark best fits your needs. This choice will affect the scope of your protection and the specifics of your application. Let's break down the main types:

Standard Character Trademark

A standard character trademark protects the text of your trademark without any specific font, size, or color. This is the most flexible option because it covers the word(s) in any visual representation.

Example: If you trademark the word "KickSaaS" as a standard character mark, you have the right to use it in any font or style.

Special Form Trademark

If your trademark includes a specific logo, stylized text, or design, you'll need to apply for a special form trademark. This type of trademark protects the exact way your trademark appears, including any unique fonts, graphics, or colors.

Example: If "KickSaaS" is written in a specific font and color, your trademark will only protect that particular design.

Color Trademark

A color trademark is a type of special form trademark where color is an essential part of the mark. If the colors in your logo are crucial to your brand identity, you must include a color claim in your application.

Example: If "KickSaaS" uses a specific shade of blue and green, you must describe these colors and their placement in your trademark application.

Sound Trademark

A sound trademark protects a distinctive sound that identifies your brand. These are less common but can be powerful brand identifiers.

Example: The famous chime of a certain tech company's product is a registered sound trademark.

Choosing the right type of trademark is critical. A standard character trademark offers broad protection, while a special form trademark and color trademark provide more specific protections. If you have a unique sound associated with your brand, consider a sound trademark.

Once you've decided on the type of trademark, you're ready to prepare your application.

Step 4: Prepare Your Application

Once you've decided on the type of trademark, you're ready to prepare your application. This step involves several important decisions and information gathering. Let's break it down:

TEAS Plus vs. TEAS Standard

When filing your trademark application, you have two options: TEAS Plus and TEAS Standard. Each has its own requirements and fees:

TEAS Plus: - Filing Fee: $250 per class of goods/services. - Requirements: More detailed information upfront. You must use pre-approved descriptions from the Trademark Identification Manual. - Best For: Applicants who can find accurate descriptions in the ID Manual and want to save on filing fees.

TEAS Standard: - Filing Fee: $350 per class of goods/services. - Requirements: Fewer initial requirements but more flexibility. You can write your own descriptions of goods/services. - Best For: Applicants who need custom descriptions not available in the ID Manual.

Identify and Classify Your Goods or Services

Accurately describing and classifying your goods or services is crucial. The Trademark ID Manual can help you find the right classification.

Steps to Follow: 1. Search the ID Manual: Look for descriptions that match your goods/services. 2. Choose the Right Class: There are 45 classes. For example, hats fall under class 25 (clothing), while custom embroidery services fall under class 40 (treatment of materials). 3. Accurate Descriptions: If the ID Manual doesn't have a suitable description, you'll need to write your own (using TEAS Standard).

Example: If you're registering a trademark for a clothing brand that also offers custom embroidery, you might need to file under two classes, increasing the fee.

Provide Required Statements

Certain statements must be included in your application, especially if specific conditions apply. These statements address various elements of your trademark, such as:

  • Color: If your trademark includes specific colors.
  • Design or Stylized Font: If your trademark has unique designs or fonts.
  • Non-English Words: If your trademark includes words in a language other than English.
  • Non-Latin Characters: If your trademark includes characters not in the Latin alphabet.
  • Living Person's Name or Portrait: If your mark includes a name or image of a living person.
  • Concurrent Use: If your trademark is already in use and you need to limit its use to a specific geographic area.

Example: If your trademark is a logo with a specific color scheme and includes non-English words, you'll need to provide statements about the color and translation of the words.

Each of these elements ensures your application is complete and helps avoid delays in processing.

Filing Basis

Your filing basis depends on whether you're already using your trademark in commerce or intend to use it in the future.

  • Use-in-Commerce: If you're already using your trademark, you'll need to provide a specimen showing the mark in use.
  • Intent-to-Use: If you plan to use the trademark in the future, you can file based on intent-to-use and provide proof later.

Example: If you have a product label with your trademark currently in use, that can serve as your specimen for a use-in-commerce filing.

By carefully preparing your application with the right form, accurate descriptions, and required statements, you'll be well on your way to securing your trademark.

Next, we'll cover how to file your application using the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS).

Step 5: File Your Application

Filing your trademark application might sound complicated, but with the right guidance, it's quite manageable. Here's what you need to know to get started.

What to Include in Your Application

1. Owner Information You'll need to provide the legal name, address, and contact details of the trademark owner. This could be an individual or a business entity.

Note: If the owner is outside the U.S., a U.S.-licensed attorney must file the application on their behalf.

2. Contact Information Include an email address and phone number. This information will become part of the public record.

3. Drawing of Mark - Standard Character Mark: Simply enter the text of your trademark. - Special Form Mark: Upload a clear JPG image of your trademark, including any logos, stylized fonts, or color.

4. Specimen of Mark If you're already using the mark in commerce, provide a specimen that shows the trademark in use. This could be a product label, a screenshot of your website, or other evidence.

Filing Basis Options

When filing your application, you must choose a filing basis. Here are the main options:

1. Use-in-Commerce This basis is for trademarks already in use in business transactions. You'll need to provide a specimen showing the mark in use.

2. Intent-to-Use If you plan to use the trademark in the future, select this basis. You can provide proof of use later.

3. Foreign Registration If you have a foreign trademark registration, you can use it as a basis for registering in the U.S. This is known as a Section 44 filing basis.

4. Madrid Protocol This international treaty allows you to extend a foreign trademark registration to the U.S. It's called a Section 66(a) filing basis.

Filing Through TEAS

Use the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) to submit your application. Here's what you'll need:

1. MyUSPTO Account Sign up for a MyUSPTO account if you don't already have one. You'll need it to access TEAS.

2. Two-Step Authentication Log in using two-step authentication for added security.

3. Choose Your Form - TEAS Plus: Lower fee, more upfront requirements. - TEAS Standard: Higher fee, fewer upfront requirements.

4. Submit Your Application Double-check all information, then submit your application through TEAS.

By including all necessary information and selecting the correct filing basis, you'll streamline the application process and avoid common pitfalls.

Next, we'll discuss how to monitor your application once it's filed.

Step 6: Monitor Your Application

Once you've submitted your trademark application, your journey isn't over. Monitoring your application is crucial to ensure everything goes smoothly.

Application Becomes Public Record

As soon as you submit your application, it becomes part of the public record. This means that all the information you provided, except for payment details, is publicly available. You can view your application on the USPTO website and other sites that index USPTO data, like Google.

Tip: Be mindful of the personal information you include. While some details are necessary, you can use limited options to prevent certain personal information from being made public.

Examining Attorney

After submission, your application is assigned to an examining attorney. This attorney will review your application for compliance with all legal requirements. Typically, this review begins within three months of filing.

Fun Fact: The examining attorney acts as the gatekeeper for the USPTO, ensuring that only trademarks meeting all criteria move forward.

Office Action

If the examining attorney finds any issues with your application, you'll receive an Office action. This is a notification that there is a problem with your application. Common issues include:

  • Likelihood of confusion with an existing trademark
  • Incomplete or incorrect information
  • Issues with the description of goods or services

You'll need to respond to the Office action within six months to keep your application alive. Failure to respond will result in your application being abandoned.

Pro Tip: Respond promptly and accurately to any Office actions to avoid delays.

Trademark Official Gazette

If your application passes the examining attorney's review, your trademark will be published in the Trademark Official Gazette (TMOG). This is a weekly publication that lists newly published marks.

Why It Matters: Once published, others have 30 days to oppose your trademark. This period is crucial as it can determine whether your trademark will be successfully registered.

Keep an Eye On: Regularly check the TMOG to stay informed about potential conflicts or oppositions.

By diligently monitoring your application and responding to any issues, you'll be well on your way to securing your trademark. Next, we'll address some frequently asked questions about the trademark application process.

Frequently Asked Questions about Trademark Applications

How much does it cost to get a trademark?

The cost of a trademark application varies depending on your filing choice and the number of classes your trademark covers.

  • Filing fees: These range from $250 to $750 per class of goods or services. The TEAS Plus option is cheaper but requires more detailed information upfront, while TEAS Standard is a bit more flexible but more expensive.

  • Maintenance fees: After registration, you'll need to file maintenance documents between the 5th and 6th year, and again every ten years. For example, a Declaration of Use costs $125 per class, and a renewal application costs $425 per class.

  • Additional fees: You might also incur costs for attorney services, comprehensive trademark searches, and professional drawings if your mark includes a logo or design. Attorney fees can range from $500 to $2,000 for basic services.

Can I do my own trademark application?

Yes, you can file a trademark application on your own through the USPTO's website. However, there are a few things to consider:

  • USPTO instructions: The USPTO provides detailed instructions and resources, including the TEAS tutorial and FAQs, to help you through the process.

  • Potential issues: Filing on your own can be complex. Missteps in your application, such as incorrect classifications or incomplete information, can lead to delays or denials. Hiring a trademark attorney can help navigate these complexities and increase your chances of success.

How long does the trademark application process take?

The trademark application process can take some time, typically ranging from 12 to 18 months. Here’s a breakdown of the stages:

  • Processing wait times: Once you submit your application, it will be assigned to an examining attorney within about three months.

  • Examination stages: The examining attorney will review the application for any issues. If there are problems, you'll receive an Office action, which you must respond to before the application can progress.

  • Potential delays: Delays can occur if there are oppositions during the publication period in the Trademark Official Gazette or if the application requires multiple rounds of Office actions and responses.

Understanding these timelines and potential hurdles can help you better plan and manage your trademark application process.

Next, we'll dive into the final steps of filing your application and what to expect once your trademark is registered.


Applying for a trademark is a crucial step in protecting your brand and ensuring its uniqueness in the marketplace. Accuracy in your trademark application is essential. Errors or incomplete information can lead to delays, additional costs, or even rejection of your application. Therefore, taking the time to thoroughly prepare and review your application cannot be overstated.

Benefits of Trademark Registration

  1. Exclusive Rights: Registering a trademark grants you exclusive rights to use the mark nationwide in connection with the goods or services listed in your application. This legal protection helps prevent others from using a similar mark that could confuse consumers.

  2. Legal Recourse: With a registered trademark, you have the right to take legal action against anyone who infringes on your mark. This includes the ability to file a lawsuit in federal court.

  3. Brand Recognition: A registered trademark enhances your brand's credibility and helps build trust with consumers. It signals that your business is established and serious about protecting its identity.

  4. Expansion Opportunities: Trademark registration makes it easier to expand your brand internationally. You can leverage your U.S. registration to apply for trademark protection in other countries through treaties like the Madrid Protocol.

  5. Use of ® Symbol: Once your trademark is registered, you can use the ® symbol, indicating that your mark is officially recognized and protected by law.

KickSaaS Legal Services

At KickSaaS Legal, we understand that the trademark application process can seem daunting, especially if you've never tried it before. Our team of experienced trademark attorneys is here to guide you every step of the way. From conducting comprehensive trademark searches to ensuring your application is complete and accurate, we provide the support you need to secure your brand's future.

We offer tailored trademark services that align with your business goals. Whether you're filing a new application, managing existing registrations, or navigating the complexities of trademark enforcement, KickSaaS Legal is your strategic partner in brand protection.

Ready to protect your brand? Visit our trademark services page to learn more or to schedule a consultation. Let us help you turn your trademarks into one of your business's most valuable assets. At KickSaaS Legal, we're not just your attorneys; we're your partners in building a strong, resilient brand.

By understanding the importance of accuracy and the benefits of trademark registration, you're well on your way to securing your brand's identity and ensuring its success in the competitive marketplace. Trust KickSaaS Legal to help you navigate this journey with confidence.

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