Trademark law is one of the most often misunderstood components of the American legal system. If you wish to file a trademark or copyright, it’s vital to understand how the trademarking process works and the legal issues that often arise from trademark disputes. Intellectual property law leans heavily on trademark and copyright law, and the Myers Law Group wants to provide our readers with some foundational information about trademarks in the U.S.
If you have specific questions about your trademark, the application process, or a legal dispute concerning copyright, a Newport Beach trademark attorney is a great resource. Consider the following frequently asked questions about trademarks and consider whether you should speak with an attorney.
Q: What Exactly Is a Trademark?
A: A trademark is an official piece of intellectual property or brand name with a recognizable design, sign, logo, or visual expression that identifies the products and/or services of the trademark holder.
Q: How to Do Obtain My Own Trademark?
A: Anyone can obtain a trademark, but the process is more difficult than most people might realize. To obtain your trademark and legal ownership of your trademarked designs, you must file an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. It’s wide to work with an experienced Newport Beach trademark lawyer if you plan to go through the application process for the first time.
Q: What Is a Trademark Specimen?
A: The trademark application process is much more detailed than most first-time applicants expect. It’s vital for any applicant to submit a trademark specimen in the correct format along with their application paperwork. This specimen cannot just be a printed image of the design or brand image to be trademarked. The applicant must provide the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office with a physical example of how the applicant intends to use the trademarked design or brand image.
Q: What Must I Include in My Trademark Application?
A: Along with your trademark specimen, you must prove the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office with a full and accurate description of how you intend to use your trademarked brand image or design. For example, if you are planning to sell apparel branded with your trademark, you must list the different types of clothing you intend to sell. The wording of your application is very important, so it’s best to avoid open-ended descriptions and be as precise as possible. Working with an experienced Newport Beach trademark lawyer can help streamline the application process, as they can guide as to how to word your responses on your application paperwork.
Q: How Long Does the Trademark Application Approval Process Take?
A: Trademark registration is not a swift process. Typically, a simple trademark application can receive approval within six months to one year following the submission of the application. However, if there are any disputes against the trademark or other legal issues that arise during the verification and registration processes, the approval process could take much longer.
Q: How Can I Establish Ownership of a Trademark?
A: Part of the application process through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is assigning the brand image or design to a specific entity. If you intend the trademark to be your personal property, you would name yourself as the entity with ownership. If the brand image is meant to market a company you own, you can assign your business as an entity with ownership. It’s also possible to register a trademark with multiple ownership entities.
Q: Can I Sell or Transfer Trademark Ownership?
A: A trademark may be a piece of property, but as trademarks are essentially intangible, they are not sold outright. A trademark owner may transfer ownership of their trademark to another entity. Doing so typically requires some form of contract. The trademark owner must process this transferred assignment through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and this entails a small fee. Trademark ownership transfers are common when companies are bought and sold, and the trademark rights typically form part of the sale contract along with the purchased company’s other assets.
Q: Do I Need a Newport Beach Trademark Attorney for a Trademark Application?
A: While you may not necessarily need legal counsel for your trademark application process, it is a wise choice to hire an experienced Newport Beach trademark lawyer to help you with your application process. Your attorney can walk you through all of the paperwork you will need to complete, ensure your trademark application is as accurate and detailed as possible, and help you gather the documentation you may need to submit along with your application and specimen. Your attorney can also investigate U.S. Patent and Trademark Office records to ensure your trademarked image or design does not conflict with any existing pending or registered trademarks.
Q: What Do I Do If Someone Abuses My Trademark?
A: Intellectual property infringement and unauthorized use of your trademarks can be incredibly damaging to your brand. If you need to file a dispute over misuse of your trademark or have any concerns about another party attempting to register a trademark that conflicts with your own, it’s best to consult with a Newport Beach trademark attorney. Be sure to bring as much evidence as you can find that shows the extent of the misuse of your property. Your attorney can help you recover damages to your brand and hold the party responsible for the misuse of your trademark accountable through a civil claim. Your attorney will also need to file necessary paperwork about the issue with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Q: What Is the Difference Between a Copyright and a Trademark?
A: A copyright is a form of intellectual property protection for the original creator of an authored work. This may include novels, movies, games, or other artistic creations. A trademark would act as intellectual property protection for the images, graphics, and written names of copyrighted materials. For example, the author of a novel would have a copyright on the story itself, and a trademark for the branded imagery associated with the story, such as notable characters, logos, or phrases.
Hopefully, these frequently asked questions and their answers provide you with a firmer understanding of the trademark application process and what you might expect when you work with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The right attorney can help you get a trademark application right the first time, address legal issues associated with your pending or registered trademark, and advise you about copyright protections and other options for protecting your intellectual property. Contact the Myers Law Group today if you would like to arrange a consultation with an experienced Newport Beach trademark attorney.