How Do I Register a Trademark?

You can register your trademark through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”). 

The first step is to decide what “mark” you wish protect.  Trademark protection is available for several different types of marks: word marks, design marks, and sound marks.  In addition, the mark must be connected to a particular type of product or service.  For example, a word mark might be: “DELTA for faucets.” 

The second step is search the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Search System to determine whether there are any registered trademarks that resemble the mark you wish to register.  You may still be able to register a mark that resembles one that is already in the USPTO’s database, so long as you register it in connection with a different kind of product or service. 

Assuming that the mark is not in use by someone else, you must submit an application and the filing fee through the USPTO’s online portal, available here.  In the application, you must include a drawing or depiction of the mark, or in the case of a sound mark, a recording.  You must also clearly specify the goods and services with which your mark will be used.  Finally, you must establish a “basis for filing” showing that you have used, or intended to use, the mark “in com­merce.” Non-profit activity is sufficient, as long as the mark is used in connection with specific goods and services.  

A reviewing attorney at the PTO will determine whether the party has complied with the filing rules and whether the mark can be registered.  If the reviewing attorney raises no objections, the PTO approves the mark for publication in the “Official Gazette,” the PTO’s weekly publication.  That provides an opportunity for the public to object to the mark. 

If there are no objections within 30 days, then the PTO will register the mark and issue a certificate of registration.  That overall process typically takes seven months. 

If someone objects, the USPTO will initiate an opposition proceeding before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB”).  The opposition is a trial-like procedure where the parties are permitted to conduct discovery and submit evidence to establish their entitlement to the mark.  The TTAB generally renders a decision in an opposition within a year. 

If the TTAB determines that mark can be registered, the USPTO will issue a certificate of registration, as noted above.  

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