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Intellectual Property Trademark Trademark Application

Online Trademark Services: Good or Bad?

Let’s talk about filing a TM application without any help first.

There is no doubt that any US person, including legal entity having address in the U.S., can file a trademark application without absolutely no help.

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Intellectual Property TEAS plus Trademark Trademark Application U.S. Trademark

TEAS Plus, RF (reduced fee) Explained

By carefully filling out all the required blanks and agreeing to go paperless in communicating with the USPTO, you can reduce your application fees from $325 to $225 (TEAS plus).

TEAS RF allows you to enter goods/services description in your own words for a slightly heftier fee, but it is not recommended if you want the examination process to be as quick as possible. If you pick one from the Trademark ID manual (by USPTO), the examiner will unlikely oppose to the propriety of the description.

Not all questions are straightforward. When you’re in doubt, always consult USPTO guidelines. Always consult a professional before making decisions. All you learned today may be a tip of an ice burg.

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Intellectual Property TEAS plus Trademark Trademark Application U.S. Trademark

Trademark Registration: do I need to hire an attorney?

Getting a trademark, you can either “do it yourself” or hire a professionals. DIY option describes not only filing directly via TEAS at USPTO.gov but also using commercial services under $100.

Let’s compare these two options.

Do it yourself Professional Help
Mark Your choice of wording and design Likely a better wording and design
Registration online trademark search/registration via your representative
Cost USPTO fees + $100 commercial service fees USPTO fees + up to $2,000 attorney fees + design cost

Trademark registration is not too complicated.

Nonetheless, mistakes can cost your time and money. If you are not going to hire an attorney, you should read and watch everything on USPTO’s Trademark Basics before you proceed. On a side note, even if things go smoothly while registering trademark, lawyers can improve the strength of the registered trademark significantly and designers will give your logo/design a professional look.

USPTO offers an online application form through TEAS (Trademark Electronic Application System).

There are various forms including TEAS plus, TEAS RF (Reduced Fee), and TEAS regular application types. Latter forms are subject to higher fees but offers some flexibility to applicants. Assuming you don’t make any mistake in filling out the form, you can save up to $100 by choosing TEAS plus. TEAS forms are web-based, guided, multi-page forms that anyone can learn the process as-you-go.

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Intellectual Property Trademark Trademark Application

Standard Character mark v. Special Form mark

There are mainly two types of trademark, a standard one and a stylized one.

Coca-cola_stylized_logo

A standard one (called a standard character mark) establishes your trademark rights to the written words of the mark whereas a stylized one (called a stylized/design mark) to the expression of the words in a certain way.

For example, “Coca-Cola” is a brand name of a certain soda drink, registered to the Coca-Cola Company. But you more often see the name in a particular style as shown here.

Nowadays, the use of stylized logos and designs is very common because it effectively sets apart the company/brand from competitors’.

A common choice is Standard Character.

Although virtually all companies use at least some design/style elements in their trademark, still most of the companies register their trademark in a standard character format. Why?

  1. They don’t want their trademark right to be limited to a specific design. In fact, if you registered your brand name in a standard character format, any style/design of that registered name can’t be used by your competitors.
  2. Also, once registered as a stylized/design mark you can’t change the design or style of the mark. Companies often update their design and style elements to modernize them.

Thus, it’s is a rule of thumb that a standard character format affords a better protection.

A Styled/Design Mark works a bit differently.

IPfever_logo_example
JPfever_example

Let’s say IPfever registered a stylized trademark: After a few years, a website devoted to teaching Japanese language and culture dubs itself Japanese Fever, “JP fever” in short, and starts using this logo:.

Do you see any problem? Although they changed a letter, they look too similar. There’s likely an infringement case.

However, if IPfever were registered as standard character, it would’ve been a different story. Because “fever” in Japanese Fever can be considered as a descriptive word for passion and enthusiasm for Japanese culture, it likely has a leeway.

jpfever_example

But it should be noted that stylized/design marks have their own limitation. If Japanese Fever  , I say this one differs in style so much to escape from a potential trademark infringement claim.

You have to choose, but choose wisely.

You might say you would just register both standard character and design marks. Problem solved? Well, it’s not that simple.

You can’t claim “the coffee house” trademark for your coffee house because that’s what people call any coffee house. It’s reserved for everyone. But you may register this stylized/design mark.

the_coffee_house

You probably need to disclaim rights to the words, (meaning that others can literally use the same name) but it still protects you from something like this knock-off.

the_coffee_shop

So, figure out what’s the strength and weakness of your mark, and then choose wisely.

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Intellectual Property Trademark Trademark Application

Marketing Starts From Naming

Many low-end products tend to say exactly what it is. On the other hand, high-end products are very subtle. Have you ever bought a crappy good carefully wrapped inside a sophisticated package? Well, more likely than not you weren’t careful.

The thing is there is a tiny market for a fancy looking crappy product.

In other words, having a fancy name does rarely fly for a low-end product. You should name your product for what it is. However, that doesn’t prevent you from growing a great brand name.

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Intellectual Property TEAS plus Trademark Trademark Application

TEAS Explained, Page-by-Page

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Intellectual Property TEAS plus Trademark Trademark Application U.S. Trademark

$225 to Register a Trademark?

We have discussed the importance of trademark in “Amazon Suggests Branding for All“, and compared good and bad trademarks in “How often do you Google your trademark“. This time, we will learn about how to register a trademark.