In the day you begin to use your business’s name and logo, you have actually begun to build your trademark as well as take advantage of its protection. Even without a registration in the USPTO, you have some legal rights over your trademark, however only locally. Brand building will be a hard and long process, which makes even more important the trademark protection. Here are some essential steps in order to make sure that nobody else is piggybacking off your hard work:
Research before filing an application – Why not performing your own trademark search before filing the application to get trademark protection? You can do it yourself or hiring a specialized company and make sure that you are not infringing others in the first place and that your trademark meets the necessary requirements to be registered.
Filing the application – It can be done by filing a paper application or by using TEAS, the USPTO's Trademark Electronic Application Service. Register whatever is associated with your business starting from logo, slogans, product names, business name and even the social media handles so you have rights over them as well.
Respond to the office actions – Your application is assigned to the examining attorney who can often send letters known as “Office Actions” with questions or concerns regarding your application. Respond to them by the deadline, otherwise the trademark application is considered abandoned.
Maintain the trademark – It doesn’t end with the registration. Trademarks last for ten years and are renewable with ten-year periods but you will need to update the documentation between the 5th and 6th year after the registration, and USPTO doesn’t send reminders for this. Failing to upload and missing deadlines will cancel your trademark registration.
Enforcing your rights – USPTO is not a trademark police, while they will stop others from registering trademark similar to yours, it’s up to you to monitor who might be infringing your trademark. Cease and desist letters usually come in handy as many infringements are involuntary, however if the infringer persists, the trademark registration grants you the right to file lawsuit in federal court.