Time matters when it comes to trademarks.
The longer your mark is unprotected, the more likely it is that someone will use it inappropriately. Even worse, an unprotected mark leaves the door open for another business to exploit your branding efforts and acquire their own trademark for your proprietary words and symbols.
One of the best ways to protect your mark is by registering it with the U.S. Patent & Trade Office (USPTO). State registration can also be effective, but it limits the geographic scope of your trademark protection. So if it's possible to demonstrate that the mark is used in interstate commerce, a USPTO trademark registration is definitely the way to go.
To reduce the amount of time and resources that are required to register a trademark, the USPTO allows you to file your trademark application electronically. The online registration process gives you and your attorney a convenient system for filing registration documents and can even help you track the progress of your filings.
At the present time, there are several documents that can be filed through TEAS (Trademark Electronic Application System). Here is a sampling of those documents as well as the pre-registration requirements USPTO recommends for applicants.
- Pre-Registration Requirements. Before you file an electronic trademark application, the USPTO advises applicants that they are entering into a legal process. Any legal counsel you employ must be licensed and the information you provide during the application process will become a matter of public record.
- Initial Application Forms. The initial application form is the entry point for all trademark and service mark registration applications. Although the process may ultimately require the completion of additional online forms, this form is a prerequisite for all online trademarks.
- Intent to Use (ITU) Forms. In some instances, USPTO may grant a trademark based on an intent to use it for interstate commerce or other activities, before those activities have actually occurred. To facilitate the process, you will need to complete an online ITU form, which notifies USPTO that an intent to use has been converted to actual use.
- Maintenance/Renewal Forms. The trademark registration process continues long after its original approval. Online maintenance and renewal forms enable your company to complete filings at the required intervals to ensure the incontestability of your mark.
For more information about filing your trademark online, visit the USPTO site at www.uspto.gov.