How to File a Trademark Without a Lawyer
People can file a trademark without a lawyer in the U.S. as long as they’re a U.S. citizen or a business that has a permanent home in the U.S. Note that while it’s possible to file a trademark without a lawyer, working with an attorney who’s experienced in trademarks can help the process proceed more smoothly, as they’ll be familiar with the complexities of trademark law. For those wanting to move ahead on their own, here are steps and considerations.
What’s the First Step in Filing a Trademark?
The first step (and it’s important) is research. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has a searchable database of existing trademarks. It’s critical to make sure someone else hasn’t already trademarked what you want to trademark. It doesn’t have to be identical—the USPTO will deny a trademark to something that’s too similar to something else, either visually or in terms of wording.
Then it’s time to decide how to display the mark. The USPTO wants to see how the trademark will be used in business. For products, the simplest way is to make up labels and packaging that show the mark. Other items include brochures and flyers, and websites. Note that things like business cards and letterhead are not usually sufficient on their own.
You’ll also want a professional email address that reflects the business itself, not a personal address.
How Does the Trademark Filing Process Work?
It starts by identifying the business category the USPTO would expect your mark to fit into. Searching on the USPTO site will help find the correct category. Next, gather all the information and files you need (making sure to have images that adhere to the USPTO’s requirements) to begin filling out the paperwork online. Note that once you begin, the USPTO site gives you 60 minutes to fill out the form. If it takes longer than that, you’ll have to start over, so it’s best to set aside enough time up front and make sure you have everything you need before beginning.
Once the forms are filled out and submitted, it’s time to wait. It can take several days before the USPTO shows the application on its site and a few more days before someone is assigned to review it. After the review begins, you may receive requests for more information. Be sure to provide that info by the deadline, or your application could be denied, and you’d need to start over. The entire process can take weeks to months.
After receiving the trademark, note that it needs to be reviewed in five years. Because a trademark is only valid for a business currently in operation, that review consists of providing proof that the mark is still actively used in commerce.
Let Us Advise You
If you need assistance with filing a trademark at any step of the process, call us at 317-663-9190 to receive experienced legal help.