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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a trademark?

A trademark is a mark, such as name, logo, design, tag line, or some combination of them, that acts to distinguish or identify the source of goods of one party from the goods of another party. In layman’s terms, your trademark helps identify you to consumers as the source of goods as opposed to your competitor. Consumer recognition is a key attribute of a trademark.

A service mark is similar to a trademark, except that the mark identifies or distinguished a source of services. However, the term “trademark” is commonly used to refer to both trademarks and service marks.

2. Why should I register my trademark?

Registering your trademark with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office can provide increased protection for your trademark. There are a number of important benefits that come with ownership of a federal trademark registration on the Principal Register. Some of the benefits include:

- A legal presumption of your ownership of the mark and your exclusive right to use the mark nationwide on or in connection with the goods/services listed in the registration;

- The right to use the federal registration symbol ®;

- Public notice of your claim of ownership of the mark;

- Listing in the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s online databases; and

- The ability to bring an action concerning the mark in federal court.

3. Why should I use a lawyer to register my trademark?

While the trademark registration process may seem simple, it involves many legal and procedural requirements. Sometimes these issues are subtle and can be easily overlooked if you are not experienced in trademark law. If these issues are not handled properly at the beginning, it could make it more difficult to obtain your registration or even limit the scope of any resulting trademark registration. An improperly prepared trademark application could even result in you needing to re-file the application, causing you to lose the nonrefundable filing fee charged by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

We like to compare the wisdom of using an experienced trademark attorney to the wisdom of using a good dentist for dental work. You wouldn't pull your own tooth, and for the same reason you should avoid self-help trademark registration services. We recommend you use an experienced trademark attorney to do your trademark work.

The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office has provided a similar recommendation: "For advice about trademarks and the USPTO registration process, you should consider hiring a private trademark attorney (not associated with the USPTO) to help you. Although not required, most applicants use private trademark attorneys for legal advice regarding use of their trademark, filing an application, and the likelihood of success in the registration process, since not all applications proceed to registration."