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Can I Trademark a Phrase?

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A trademark is a distinctive word, symbol, phrase, or a combination of these things connected to your business to create and improve the brand’s recognition. When you’ve found a good word or slogan for your business, it will help to protect it with a trademark with the help of a skilled national asset protection law firm.
A trademark can only be applied in the business category where it’s registered, hence protecting it from infringement. In the US, the management of trademark registration is under the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Owning a Trademark vs. Having a Registered Trademark. What’s the Difference

A common illusion is that registering a trademark means you rightfully own a certain word or phrase, and others can’t use it. However, you generally don’t own rights to the words or phrases, only how you use the word or phrase concerning your goods or services.
For example, using a specific logo for your restaurant business to identify and set your business apart doesn’t stop another non-restaurant company from using the same symbol. Also, choosing a trademark to describe your goods or services is not enough. A creative and unique phrase makes registering a brand easier and effectively stands out from the competition.

You become a trademark owner as soon as you start using it with your business. While you also establish rights to the trademark, they are limited to the geographic area where your company operates. For stronger, nationwide trademark rights, a national asset protection lawyer can help you apply to register the trademark.

Why Is It Important to Trademark a Phrase?

Registering a phrase with the USPTO protects it from being used by other enterprises because it gains nationwide rights. Other businesses can’t claim the right to use the phrase. So:

  • You can file a lawsuit in federal court if another business uses your phrase. You can bring a claim for lost revenue or prevent a company from using the business phrase in the future.
  • A registered trademark is legally taxing. If you file a lawsuit, you don’t have to prove the trademark’s validity, but your opposition must show why the phrase should be invalid.

Without registering a trademark, anyone else can use the exact words or phrases as you and benefit from your creativity.

Are There Reasons Not to Trademark a Phrase

Sometimes it may not be possible to trademark a phrase for several reasons, including the following:

The Process is Costly

You must pay the registration fee for each category if you want to trademark a phrase in more than one business class. The cost of a trademark ranges from $225 to $400. To trademark a business phrase in three business classes, you’ll pay almost $1,000.

Complex Rules

Your business should be the only one in your class using the phrase you wish to trademark. If that’s not the case, the chances are high that the USPTO will disapprove your application.

At the same time:

  • A trademark should identify the source of a product. If your phrase describes a service or product, the USPTO won’t approve it for trademark protection.
  • The phrase’s purpose should be to sell a product, without which it won’t get approval for trademark protection.
  • The USPTO doesn’t approve funny and informational phrases.

Indiana trademark attorneys can guide you and break down the rules to understand where you stand.

There are Deadlines for Trademarks

Trademark laws stipulate that you must use the trademarked phrases within a year of registration, after which it becomes inactive. Re-registering the trademark requires you to start the process from the beginning. However, there’s no guarantee that you’ll register successfully.

Incomplete Protection

One challenging thing about trademarks is that they don’t provide complete protection. The brand only protects consumers from mistaking your business for others within the same class. However, you can’t prevent another business in a different category from using your trademarked phrase unless it negatively affects your business.

Common-Law Trademark Rights

You automatically have common-law legal rights to a phrase if you’re the first to use it in marketing your business. No registration or application is necessary to get common-law rights if you often and commonly use the phrase.

Federal Trademark Rules

As earlier mentioned, the federal rules surrounding trademark registration of a phrase are complex and probably confusing. Not all words can be trademarked, not every business can trademark a phrase, and registering a trademark doesn’t always offer complete protection.
Rules surrounding a trademark application include:

  • Only a phrase used for commercial purposes may be trademarked, not because you like a term or word and don’t want anyone else to use it.
  • The phrase you trademark is only protected against use by other businesses in the same business class.
  • The trademark must identify your business as the source of goods or services.
  • The phrase may not be identical to one that has already been registered or is pending application.
  • The phrase must not be generic or descriptive but also distinctive
  • The term shouldn’t contain terms commonly used in business or the type of business in question
  • The business phrase mustn’t be part of everyday language, for example, “as a matter of fact.”

While all these rules are essential, they can be complex to master. Non-compliance could lead to the rejection of your application. Indiana trademark attorneys can review your phrase and help you understand if it complies with the regulations.

An Experienced Attorney Helping You Protect Your Trademark

The best way to protect your business trademark is to register it with USPTO. The registration must comply with Indiana’s federal trademark rules and other requirements. The process is relatively simple through the USPTO website. However, trademark attorneys in Carmel, IN, must review your application, resulting in either an approval or rejection of the trademark. The attorney may also request more information.

Our Carmel trademark attorneys can help you register your business trademark to enhance the chances of having your phrase approved. We know that protecting your assets is crucial, and we’re the right team to help you every step of the way. Get in touch with us to schedule a FREE case assessment.