If you own a business that provides goods or services, you may want to protect the marks representing your brand. Obtaining protection for your marks allows you to build a reputation and allow consumers to associate your mark with your particular goods and services. This protection also prevents competitors from using your mark or similar ones that could potentially damage your reputation or confuse consumers.
If you want to register a trademark, you must first ensure that your mark is distinctive and not merely descriptive of your product or service. Next, conduct a search with the U.S Patent and Trademark Office. This will alert you of marks that are already registered. You next need to use the mark in commerce so that the consuming public will recognize your mark as a source identifier.
If you have not yet begun to use a mark, you may file an “intent to use” application. This will allow you to preserve your right to a mark before its use. However, you must make an effort to establish and use the mark within 6 months of registering its intent to use.
Registration will give you nationwide priority over anyone else that adopts a similar mark, but it will not give you protection against people that have been using similar marks prior to your registration.
If you are unable to establish the mark within 6 months, there are extensions available. Once you establish it, you must still file for registration within six months.