Registering a Trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is a straightforward process with both online and paper options. The paper format does take longer to process and is not available for download from the USPTO website. There are two types of online forms: TEAS PLUS and TEAS. There are special requirements for using the TEAS PLUS form, but it does have a lower filing fee.
Before registering your trademark, a few issues should be taken into consideration. For example, should you be filing for a trademark? Does your idea fit into the definition of trademark? Or is it better protected by a copyright or patent? Similarly, you should consider conducting a trademark search. This is an important step because your trademark registration application could be rejected if there is a similar trademark already registered.
You will need to decide with which category of goods or services to associate your mark. This is a critical step in the trademark application process because your mark may not be approved for registration or, even worse, the registration may not be effective in protecting your brand if the category of goods or services is incorrect. One important thing you may ask yourself is “Do I offer a tangible thing or do I perform an action?” If you offer a tangible thing, then you are probably trademarking a good. If you are performing an action for someone else, then you are likely trademarking a service.
You also need to have a “basis for filing.” There are two commonly used bases for filing: intent to use and use in commerce. Use in commerce indicates that you are already using the mark in your business activities. Intent to use means that you have a bona fide intent to use the mark in commerce in the future.
It is important to note that all information filed with the USPTO becomes a matter of public record. And even though not all trademark applications are approved, the filing fee is always non-refundable, even if you your trademark does not complete the registration process.