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Frequently Asked Questions About Trademark Registration

Trademarks are an essential part of any business, big or small. They help protect your brand and distinguish your products or services from those of your competitors.  Here, we answer some common questions, from what trademarks are and why they're important, to how register and maintain them. So, whether you're a startup or an established business, read to learn more about trademarks and how they can benefit your brand.

Q: What documents do I need to file for trademark registration in the United States?

A: To file for trademark registration in the United States, you'll need to provide:

  • A completed application form, which can be done online through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website;

  • A clear drawing or representation of the trademark you wish to register;

  • A list of goods or services associated with the mark;

  • A “specimen of use” showing the mark as it is used in commerce, such as a photo of the mark on your product or packaging, if you are applying based on current us (as opposed to an intent to use the trademark); and

  • Payment of the filing fee, which varies depending on the type of application and the number of classifications of goods or services.


Q: Do I need to trademark my company name or product name before I start doing business, or can I wait until I have some customers?

A: While it is not a legal requirement to trademark your company or product name before starting your business, it is highly recommended to do so. Registering a trademark early can prevent conflicts with other businesses and establish your rights to the brand name. The sooner you secure a trademark, the stronger your legal position will be, particularly if a dispute arises.


Q: How long does the trademark registration process typically take in the U.S.?

A: We created this chart to visually show the steps involved once an application for trademark registration is filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  If you are filing for a trademark you’re already using, the current process takes around 12-13 months.  You can see the current waiting times for an application to get assigned to an Examining Attorney at the USPTO here.


Q: How can I save money on a trademark registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office?

A: We do not recommend cutting corners on the most important part of the trademark process which is the clearance search, as using a low-cost service often results in problems down the road.  Trademarks – the company name, product or service names, and unique tag lines - are generally amongst the most important part of a business’s identity and should be treated as such.  After you know whether or not your proposed trademark is clear for use and registration, you could try to register it yourself – we offer an online class, Learn Trademarks.  If, like most of our clients, you want a trained professional to take that process off your plate, please contact us to schedule an appointment and begin the engagement process with our firm.



Q: Can I register a trademark in the United States if my business is not based in any U.S. state?

A:  Yes, non-U.S. residents can register a trademark in the United States. However, you will need to appoint a U.S.-licensed attorney to represent you in the application process. Additionally, you will need to declare an intent to use the mark in U.S. commerce.  Use in commerce in the United States means sales within the United States between at least two states, or between the U.S. and another country.


Q: What legal protections does a U.S. trademark registration provide for my Denver company?

A: A Federal Trademark registration protects your brand in so many ways!  A U.S. trademark registration grants your company the exclusive right to use the mark in connection with the particular goods and services listed in the registration across the entire United States. It also allows you to bring a lawsuit in federal court over trademark infringement if someone copies your brand and tries to confuse consumers about the origin of the goods or services.  A USPTO trademark registration also allows you to record the trademark with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods.  Only trademarks that have gone through the entire application process and achieved registration can use the federal registration symbol ®.


Q: How do I know if my brand qualifies for trademark registration in Colorado?

A: To qualify for trademark registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, your brand must be distinctive and used in commerce.  It should not be confusingly similar to existing trademarks, and it cannot be made up of descriptive or generic terms directly related to the goods or services. Not every product or service name qualifies for U.S. Trademark registration. Since cannabis is still illegal on a Federal level, you won’t currently be able to register trademarks associated with cannabis products with the USPTO, but, they may be eligible for registration with the Colorado Secretary of State.


Q: Is it necessary to use a trademark attorney for registering a U.S. trademark?

A: While not legally required, it is highly recommended to use a trademark attorney. A skilled attorney can provide valuable assistance throughout the application process, including conducting a thorough search for potential conflicts, preparing a strong application, responding to USPTO actions, and advising on proper use to maintain the trademark.


Q: What is the cost of registering a trademark in the U.S., and are there different fees in Colorado?

A: The cost of registering a trademark in the U.S. at the federal level through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office varies based on the type of application (whether or not you’re using the “ore-written” descriptions of goods/services or creating a custom description) and the number of classes of goods or services, typically ranging from $225 to $350 per classification. For Colorado state-level registration in Colorado, there fees are much lower than federal registration fees because there is no in-depth examination process.  Remember to verify current costs as USPTO fees may change and additional legal fees may apply if you are using an attorney for the process.

Q:  What happens if I get an initial refusal from the USPTO in the form of an Office Action rejecting my trademark?


A:  You will have 3 months to respond to the Office Action, and can pay a fee to extend that to 6 months from the date of issuance of the Office Action.  If you do not respond within the deadline, your application will become "abandoned."  There are at least 3 ways you can get around an Office Action; an experienced trademark attorney should be able to guide you to the path that is right for you.  

Please contact us to help with your USPTO trademark registration!

Q:  How can I save money on a trademark application?


A:  If it's a choice between having an attorney file the application for you or analyzing whether the trademark you want to use is available for search and registration, use the lawyer for the search and file the application on your own or with the help of my learn trademarks class.  A trademark attorney will go beyond an exact-match search with the USPTO and check to see whether there are any similar marks for similar goods or services already in process with the USPTO, as well as checking state databases, the internet and social media.  All of those prior users have prior rights, which can come back to haunt you. 

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