Trademarks – An Exercise In Patience
By Gerard Simington
Trademarks are a form of intellectual property for a person or business. To protect your mark, you always should formally trademark it. This brings us to the subject of patience.
A mark is simple a distinctive name, brand or whatever for your person or business. At the risk of being sued to high heaven, the name “Google” is a trademark for a certain search engine. When it is mentioned or you read about it, you know exactly what it refers to. As a business becomes successful, it will almost always want to trademark its brand, logo or whatever.
Obtaining a trademark is not particularly difficult to do. The process is controlled by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The “PTO” is an agency falling under the control of the United Stated Department of Commerce. Fascinating, eh?
Filing a trademark application with the PTO is an interesting ordeal. From a technical stand point, it is fairly simple. You can search online to see if anyone else has already obtained the trademark you are after. If not, you can fill out an application and file it online. The PTO will assign an attorney to it. He or she will either approve the application, send correspondence asking you to clarify some aspect or outright reject your application. While this sounds straightforward, there is one aspect that turns the process into an annoying one – time.
The trademark office is a government agency. As such, one can expect a certain amount of lag time in getting things done. The trademark office, however, takes this to the extreme. When you first file your trademark application, you can expect to wait for up to two months before you receive anything. When you do, it will only be a postcard verifying that the office has RECEIVED your application. Yes, it takes two months for this.
At this point, you need to have a lot of patience. Roughly six months will pass before you hear anything else on your application. It could be longer. The delay means nothing in relation to the merits of your application. It just takes forever. If you finally receive correspondence accepting your application, you will need to wait another month for it to be published and then become approved. If the trademark office wants clarification on your application, you will have thirty to sixty days to send it in. Once you do, it is time to sit and wait some more – often two to four months. It can be maddening. The process can often take more than a year to play out.
Whether you attempt to obtain a trademark on your own or use an attorney, it is important to understand what you are getting into. Don’t worry when you do not receive anything for four or five months. This is standard operating procedure at the PTO. Sooner or later, they will get around to it.
Gerard Simington is with FindAnAttorneyForMe.com - an online trademark attorney directory.
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