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Whether you need to register your trademark or take action to protect your intellectual property (IP), Smith & Little, P.C.’s trademark attorneys in Decatur want to advocate for you. Our experienced lawyers focus on assisting individuals maintain their brand’s integrity.
Call us today at (678) 949-9756 or contact us online to find out how we can make your trademark case our cause.
A trademark is a protected logo or name that helps to identify a product. These marks are industry specific, meaning two businesses in different industries could have the same or similar mark. Trademarks are significant for brands because they are often how consumers identify and differentiate between brands. Trademarked names and logos suggest that a product will have the level of quality consumers expect from experiences they have had with the product before. Establishing and protecting a trademark can be essential for a brand’s identity.
There are some limits, of course, to what someone can trademark, including common terms associated with the brand’s industry such as words like “bar” or “mechanic.” Although these limits make sense and are relatively easy to understand, there are much more specific limits to the kinds of words and images you can trademark that you should discuss with a knowledgeable lawyer, like those at Smith & Little, P.C.
In addition to helping you determine whether you can trademark your brand or logo, trademark attorneys can:
- Help you protect your trademark through legal action
- Assist you in identifying an infringement on your mark and counsel you on how to address the issue
- Work to get your mark officially registered
- Provide guidance, if and when you want to license your trademark
How Do I Initially Register a Trademark?
You can register a trademark at the state or federal level, or you might even register it on both levels if the mark is used for goods in interstate commerce. Getting a federal trademark application approved can take anywhere between a year and 18 months, while approval in the state of Georgia can happen much quicker. An accepted trademark registration is good for 10 years at both the state and federal level, at which point it must be renewed.
Regardless of whether you want to register your trademark at the state or federal level, you need to start by consulting a trademark directory to see if yours is available. You can find The USPTO’s directory by clicking here. For the state of Georgia, you can click here to search the state’s database to see if your mark is available. At Smith & Little, P.C., our trademark attorneys can thoroughly examine these directories, in addition to other sources, to put your trademark application in a position for success.
Once you know that your potential trademark is available, you need to classify the kinds of goods you offer. Both your federal and state registration application will require that you state your mark’s classification. The state of Georgia’s list of classifications can be found by clicking here. For the federal list of classifications, click here.
Step Three (for Federal Trademarks)
For a federal trademark, you will need establish a filing basis. The two bases under which you can file for a federal trademark are “use in commerce” and “intent to use.” Use in commerce indicates that you already provide your goods to customers outside the state of Georgia. Intent to use means that within three to five years you will provide your goods and to customers beyond state lines.
Once you have finished the groundwork for your application, you can begin filing the respective state and federal applications. The applications themselves require additional documentation.
The Georgia state trademark application requires that you provide:
- Three “specimens” that show examples of how the trademark appears in commerce
- A page showing how the trademark design looks
- A non-refundable $15 application fee
It is important to know that in the state of Georgia, as soon as you begin using a brand name or logo in conjunction with a product or service, it can be protected. Though you can obtain that kind of protection, it can be tricky if you have delayed registering your mark, which is why you should not wait to do so. Ensuring that your mark has been trademarked can help you sustain your business and make sure the products your consumers receive are up to the standards your brand represents.
When Do Trademark Applications Get Rejected?
The USPTO will reject an application if the mark is confusingly similar to another. Specifically, they will reject the application if the mark sounds or appears like an existing trademark, or if it means something identical to or gives off a commercial impression that is close to a registered mark. In Georgia, a trademark application will be rejected on similar grounds. Having an application get denied costs both time and money, which is why the counsel of a skilled Decatur trademark attorney can be so important.
Contact Smith & Little, P.C. online or call (678) 949-9756 today to find out how we can help you successfully establish your trademark.
Other Forms of IP: Service Marks, Copyrights, and Patents
In addition to trademarks, there are three other general kinds of IP that can be essential to businesses. These include service marks, copyrights, and patents.
Service marks function in essentially the same way as trademarks, except they are words or logos that differentiate a service instead of goods. An example of a service mark is the logo of a company that offers landscaping services.
Copyrights protect original works. For instance, a novel can be copyrighted, as well as a song and many other intellectual works that have authors. Both works that have and have not been published are able to receive protection.
One specific instance when an author cannot copyright something is when they are making “works made for hire.” In these cases, the organization or company that the author works for owns the original work, entitling them to file for its copyright.
Copyrights and patents are granted exclusively at the federal level.
Patents protect inventions, whether it be the invention of a new product or a new process of doing something. Much like copyrights, creators are usually the owners of their inventions, thus entitling them to seek a patent. In a “works made for hire” instance, however, a company or organization owns the invention and has the right to patent it.
Smith & Little, P.C.’s trademark attorneys in Decatur have a wealth of experience seeking and enforcing protection for all kinds of IP.
Contact us online or call us today at (678) 949-9756 to set up a consultation to talk about your IP and how we can fight to protect it.
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