Trademarks FAQs

Registering a trademark lets you build and protect goodwill associated with your brand. Below are common questions that we receive at our trademark registration practice.

Q. Why should I register a trademark?

A. Registering a trademark allows you to demonstrate legal ownership over your brand or products to the public. It also increases the value of your business and gives you the standing to enforce the trademark (prevent anyone else from using it), which supports recognition and growth.

Q. Is having a domain name sufficient?

A. No. A domain name is a part of an internet address while a trademark is a sign that distinguishes your goods and services from the competition. While domain names can be registered as trademarks, simply registering a domain name doesn’t automatically make it a trademark or give you exclusive rights to use and protect it.

Q. If two people are using the same mark and neither is registered, who has more rights?

A. In this case, each person would have common law rights limited to their geographical reach. However, if the geographical reach overlaps and the goods and services are similar, the party who can prove that they used the trademark first would have what is known as “prior rights.”

Q. What can I trademark?

A. In general, you can register non-generic words, slogans, logos, symbols, and similar assets with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that represent your business. Creative works like manuscripts and inventions cannot be trademarked and should be protected with a copyright or patent.

Q. What is a clearance search?

A. A clearance search is a review of state and federal trademark databases, online databases, internet domain names, and other repositories to find an actual use of a proposed trademark or a similar mark, regardless of whether or not it is officially registered. Discovering this information before filing your trademark application will save you time and money while eliminating potential litigation.

Q. How do I choose a Trademark class?

A. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recognizes 34 trademark product classes and 11 service classes. The first step in choosing the right class is identifying whether you offer a product, like toys or clothing, or a service, like cleaning or accounting. Sometimes the solution is obvious while other times, lines can be blurred. At times like these, a Miami trademark attorney can help you make the right decision.

Q. What is a specimen and which specimen should I use?

A. When you apply to register a trademark, you must provide the USPTO with current examples of how the mark is used in the sale of the products and/or services identified in the application. Acceptable specimens of use for goods may include photos of the product or its packaging with the mark directly on it or a website showing the mark near the product. For services, you must show the mark in connection with the sales or advertising of the service. Examples include websites, marketing materials, and advertisements.

Q. How long does it take to register a trademark?

A. From start to finish, the trademark registration process can take anywhere from one year to 18 months. For example, if your application is made based on your intent to use the trademark, the USPTO will issue a notice of allowance within two to three months after the mark was published. You then have six to 12 months to file a statement of use.

Q. How do I maintain my trademark registration?

A. You must keep your trademark registration valid by filing required maintenance documents at regular intervals. Five years after you register your trademark with the USPTO, you must show proof that you have continued to use that mark. Afterwards, you are required to file proof every 10 years after registration.

If you want to file a trademark to protect and grow your company and its goods or services, Alvarez Law Group can take care of all the formalities so you can focus on growing your brand. For more information, please contact us today.