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Trademark can get confusing quickly. If you're looking to protect your brand, it's a good idea to have an understanding of what you're getting into.

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Here are 8 common questions about trademark, what it is, and how to protect your brand name and logo.

Note: This article contains affiliate links where the author may receive a commission.

1. Trademark vs. Copyright vs. Patent - What does each protect?

A trademark protects words, phrases, symbols, or designs made to identify a distinguishable source of a good or service.

A copyright covers original works of authorship, such as a book, song, or movie.

A patent protects unique inventions and discoveries.

You can attempt to copyright, patent, or trademark something on your own, but I'd recommend you consult an attorney or use an online service like LegalZoom to avoid potentially costly mistakes.

2. Trademark (™) vs. Registered Trademark (®) - What's the difference?

A trademark (™) means one of the following:

  • A federal trademark application has been filed and is pending.
  • A state application has been filed and has been granted or is pending.
  • No trademark application has been filed, but this mark is being used to distinguish goods.

A Registered Trademark (®) is a trademark that has been filed and granted at the federal level.

3. Why should I register my trademark?

Registering your trademark provides several advantages, for example:

  • The exclusive right to use the trademark nationally with the goods and/or services listed in the registration. So if you trademark your band name, you have the exclusive rights to that band name.
  • Access to federal courts for trademark protection. Without access to the federal courts, your ability to protect your trademark is limited.
  • You can use your U.S registration to obtain registration in foreign countries through the Madrid Protocol.

4. How do I register a trademark?

If you'd like to register a trademark yourself, check out the steps outlined here.

However, trademark registration is a complex beast. Because of this, I'd recommend consulting an intellectual property attorney, or using an online service like LegalZoom to register your trademark.

It's not just me, even the USPTO recommends you seek legal advice.

5. How much does it cost to register a trademark?

Trademark registration fees are as follows:

  • For an online application: $275–$325 per class of goods or services, depending on the type of application you file.
  • For paper application: $375 per class of goods or services.

This doesn't include any attorney fees. You can register your trademark with LegalZoom for $199 plus the filing fees mentioned above.

6. How do I keep my trademark?

There are a number of steps to take in order to keep your trademark, which include the following:

  • Show use of your trademark by the 6th year by filing 3 things with the USPTO:
    1. A declaration (a formal legally binding statement) that lists the items in your registration that you're selling.
    2. A photo showing your trademark as it appears on your products.
    3. The required government fee (currently $100 for each class of goods or services.)
  • Renew your trademark every 10 years (the fee is $400 for each class of goods.)

You can find more info on this here.

7. When I register a trademark, can I use it for anything?

When you register a trademark, you register it with a class or classes of products and/or services that you intend to use the trademark for.

So, while you can use your trademark for anything, your trademark protection is limited to the class or classes included in your registration.

8. Do I have to use my trademark?

Yes. If you abandon your trademark, the USPTO can cancel it. Your trademark is considered abandoned if you fail to use your trademark for three consecutive years, or fail to file the required documents to keep your trademark.



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