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Trademarks: Getting a Trademark

What are trademarks? How are they created? How are they lost?

Getting a Trademark

Trademarks and service marks apply to the particular region where a product or service is offered for sale. So, how you get a trademark depends on how widely you want the tradmark to apply.

Under United States law, assuming no one else has claimed a trademark or servicemark for the same type of product or service at the same or higher level:

  1. You can simply assert your trademark.  You can attach the TM symbol to the work or other mark you wish to claim. But it only applies in the region or regions where you are already marketing your product or service. Someone in another region may claim the same trademark legally.
  2. You can register your trademark at the state level. For example, the California Secretary of State's office registers trademarks and service marks for California.  State trademarks may be indicated with the TM symbol. There is a fee for registration.
  3. If your prduct or service will be used in interstate commerce, you may register it witht he United States Patent and Trademark OFFice (USPTO). This is more expensive than a state trademark, but it covers the entire United States and you may use the ® symbol with your tradmark.
  4. If you wish to use your trademark internationally, you may register it with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Madrid System. There is a basic fee, plus additional fees for each region in which you wish to claim the mark.


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