Generally speaking, a Trademark or service mark is how customers recognize and differentiate you in the marketplace from other competitors. It's your "brand" and a brand that deserves protection.  If you think about it, a company’s trademark(s) are among the most valuable business assets and it is always a good idea to protect your most valuable assets, right?

What is a Trademark?

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (or “USPTO” for short) explains that “[a] trademark can be any word, phrase, symbol, design, or a combination of these things that identifies your goods or services.” Trademark = source of goods.  Service mark = source of services.  Both “trademark” and “service mark” are often collectively referred to as a “trademark.”

Examples of Popular Trademarks:

  • A business name or other word mark that represents your business.  E.g., “Under Armour.”
  • A business logo or other identifying mark that represents your business.  E.g., Twitter “bird” or "t" icon that is used on websites.
  • A slogan or catchphrase.  E.g., “A Diamond is Forever” slogan for De Beers jewelry.
  • A color that represents your business or brand.  E.g., the “Tiffany Blue” color.

Different Trademark Symbols and Their Meanings:

It’s easy to get confused with the symbols that you see after a logo, name or slogan.  What the heck is the circle with the "TM" in the middle mean?  Never seen the circle with "SM" in the middle before?  What about the circle with the capital "R" in the middle?  The following may be helpful:

(TM) = you are claiming a Trademark but doesn't signify that it's federally registered.

(SM) = you are claiming a service mark but doesn't signify that it's federally registered.

(R) = you are claiming a Trademark (or service mark) and stating that it has been formally registered with the USPTO.

Different “jurisdictions” of Trademarks.

Trademarks typically fall into one or more of four (4) different categories:

  • Common Law Trademark.  A “common law” trademark is established when you use the mark in commerce in a specific geographical area.  For example, you come up with a name for your pool company and start using in to offer pool cleaning services in Phoenix, Arizona.  No registration is required for common law trademark rights, albeit limited rights, to apply.  
  • State Trademark. A “state law” trademark is one where an individual/business registers their mark, at the state level, with the office designated for the specific state.  Each state has a different office for registration.  This is often significantly cheaper than a Federal registration (Arizona is approximately $15.00), gives you the ability to enforce the trademark thought the entire state, and can provide you with some statutory protections for that mark within the state.
  • Federal Trademark.  A “federal trademark” is one where an individual/business registers their mark, at the federal level.  Here in the United States, the registration is with the United States Patent and Trademark Office and generally provides you protection, for your mark, thought the United States.  This is more expensive than the state registration, typically a few hundred dollars per class registration, but provides you a lot stronger protection and comes with statutory remedies against infringers.
  • International Trademark.  An “international trademark” is one that can cover countries outside of the United States and can be important if you have customers outside of the United States or if you sell online where your trademark is viewable in other countries.

Reasons You Want to Trademark Your Company’s Brand.

As signaled to above, it is not mandatory to register your trademark.  You could claim a common law trademark in your general geographic area, however, as compared to a state trademark or even the stronger federal trademark registration, your legal remedies against those who infringe upon your trademark can be relatively limited and you could risk customers, intended for you, being diverted to a competitor which results in loss of revenue for you.

Advantages of a registered trademark can include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Provides you with the exclusive rights to use your mark for marketing of your type of good/service throughout your state (if state registered) or the entire United States (if federally registered) forever - well, so long as you can show you are still using it and file timely renewals anyway.  You may even be able to stop others who are using similar marks to yours as well which helps prevent consumer confusion.
  • If someone else tries to use your mark, or a confusingly similar mark, that person using the unregistered mark must prove that their use of the mark is more superior to that of the registered mark holder.
  • Having a registered mark shows consumers that your business is more sophisticated, thus potentially building trust with your customer base.
  • Having a registered mark shows potential business partners in the future that you have a higher level of sophistication than if you didn’t have such registration.
  • A federally registered trademark can be recorded with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to help prevent counterfeit goods from being imported into the United States.
  • A federally registered trademark allows you to more easily obtain international registrations if/when you need it.

Trademark Services Offered by Beebe Law:

Whether you are just starting out and don’t have a trademark registration yet, or you have an existing trademark(s) but you need help moving forward, Beebe Law is here to help you through the entire lifespan of your trademark portfolio.  Depending on your goals, and budget, our trademark and brand services can be customized to include one or more of the following:

  • Clearance searches
  • Registration with the state or federally (commonly referred to as “trademark prosecution”)
  • Oppositions to registration
  • Maintenance/renewals
  • Monitoring
  • Cancellations
  • Infringement disputes
  • Licensing​
  • Domain name disputes ("UDRP Complaints")
  • Counseling on related issues

If there is something you need help with, but don't see it listed above, contact us!  If we don't do it, we can like bring someone in, or otherwise refer you to, someone who can.​

Typical Trademark Registration Timeline

State Trademark: If registering a trademark in the state of Arizona, the typical processing time is two to three weeks if review is needed, less if it doesn't.

Federal Trademark: There are many factors that can impact how long it takes to federally register a trademark, including your filing basis, but generally speaking, it typically takes 12 to 18 months to work through the various states of the registration process.  “Filing basis” simply refers to the state that your trademark is in and falls into one of five (5) categories.  The first two, Section 1(a) (where you are using the mark in commerce already) and Section 1(b) (where you aren’t using the mark yet but intend to within the near future) are the most common for new or US centered businesses.  The remaining three (3) Section 44(d), Section 44(e), and Section 66(a) all deal with foreign applications.​


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