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Laws relating to Trademark in United States

Trademark laws in the United States are regulated by a series of interrelated laws and literature including: 

Trademark Act of 1946, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1051-1141n (Lanham Act, as amended up to Public Law No. 117-168)

Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure (Eighth Edition, October 2011, Revised January 2017)

Trademark Law: Rules of Practice in Trademark Cases, 37 C.F.R. 2 et seq. & Federal Statues; Trademark Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1051 et seq. & Patent Act, 35 U.S.C. Part 1 (Consolidated Trademark Law and Regulation as of July 11, 2015)

Listing of Some United States Code Sections Protecting Specific Names, Terms, and Marks (16 Jan 2009)

The authority for trademark protection in the United States is the United States Patent and Trademark office (USPTO) and this is where trademarks are filed, searched for and maintained.

Trademark registration process in United States

After you have determined that a federal trademark is right for you, If you have not determined that yet, refer to our guide: Federal vs. state trademarks, Then you need to know the trademark registration process, as it is an extensive process with multiple phases and different responsibilities. A smooth trademark protection process that leads to a registered trademark and the issuance of a trademark certificate generally passes through the following phases:

  • USA Trademark availability search: 

Trademark search in the United States is not a required part of the trademark protection process; however, in order to avoid unnecessary costs and basic mistakes, it is best to conduct a trademark search at the US trademark and patent office to determine whether there are any marks previously registered or filed in the United States, which may stop your trademark application from proceeding.

A trademark application in the United States has multiple elements which should be completed before submission namely:

    • Trademark ownership details – who is the person/company seeking protection?
    • Trademark details – what is the trademark, what kind of trademark is it, or what is the format of the trademark? Depending on the type of trademark you are attempting to protect, the required questions and specimens will change, whether the trademark is a word, a design, or a combination thereof.
    • Goods and services - what goods and services are you seeking protection for? The class number and the underlying goods are important.
    • Disclosure on the basis of use for filing a trademark - whether you currently use the mark, or whether you intend to use it, the trademarks are important and will have slight variations in the trademark application process.

      • Examination of a trademark at the USPTO

        After the trademark is submitted to the trademark office, the US patent and trademark office will assign an examiner to the case, who will proceed with examining the application.

        A federal trademark registration establishes your brand's existence across the country and protects it from infringement. This process starts with the applicant submitting their application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Upon receipt of the application, an examining attorney will inspect it to ensure compliance and that no similar marks exist.
        Trademark examination involves analyzing a trademark application to determine whether it qualifies for formal recognition through registration by the USPTO.

          Formal examinations of trademarks in the USA

          For the formal examination, examining attorneys will check the trademark database for any conflicts and ensure it meets the filing basis requirements. After reviewing your trademark, an attorney will determine whether substantive issues exist.

          Substantive examinations of trademarks in the USA

          Substantive examination is a requirement of many trademark laws, although the scope of the examination varies. Since trademark rights affect consumers, establishing rights is an appropriate measure, since issues regarding their use have not materialized yet because the trademarks have not been in use.

            • Publication of the trademark in the official gazette

            After a trademark is approved for publication by a USPTO examiner, a trademark is published in the Trademark Official Gazette which is a weekly online publication that is usually published every Tuesday and contains:

            • Trademark information and a representative drawing for each trademark,
            • Trademarks canceled
            • Trademarks renewed
            • Publication in the United States is usually for a 30-day period during which any member of the public who thinks they'll be harmed by the registration may oppose the trademark application.
            • Registration and issuance of the trademark certificate.

            If the trademark was published for 30 days, and no party filed a complaint (opposition) or filed an extension of time to file a complaint, then the last stage of the trademark application is considered registered, and the trademark certificate will be issued.

            Upon registering your trademark, it will appear online in the United States Patent and Trademark Office's (USPTO) database. 

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            How long does it take to get a trademark registration in United States?

            It takes between 12 to 18 months to receive a trademark registration certificate. Trademark registration is a complex process that involves several stages.

            Examination criteria for trademarks in United States

            The examination criteria are both on absolute grounds, and relative grounds:

            Trademark protection requires two basic criteria: the mark must be distinctive and must be used in commerce.

            Absolute grounds

            Absolute grounds encompass marks that are not distinctive or visually appealing. Deceptive or infringing marks will be automatically rejected.

            Relative grounds

            In comparison, relative grounds are based on older trademarks and their rights. The USPTO scrutinizes trademarks for similar or identical previous ones lodged or registered. A conflicting mark is usually assessed based on the likelihood of confusion, which is further elaborated in the type of refusals section below.


            As part of the trademark registration process, the USPTO searches its database for trademarks that have been filed or registered. To assess whether the application and a mark that is either registered or pending at the USPTO are conflicting, there are two key factors considered while assessing confusion: the first is the similarity, and the second is the commercial relationship between the underlying goods and services applied for in the trademark application.

            Similarity between trademarks - similarity of trademarks is not limited to the way it sounds and the way it looks, it goes beyond:


              A couple of examples of trademarks the US patent and trademark office found similar based on phonetic similarities are:

              SYCOS                           SEIKO
              A couple of examples of trademarks the US patent and trademark office found similar based on how the trademarks look, which are usually referred to as confusingly similar in appearance in the trademark jargon:
              TURCOOL                      TRUCOOL
                 LUTEX                         LUTEXAL
              -Same meaning:     
              A couple of examples of trademarks the US patent and trademark office found similar based on the underlying meaning of the trademarks:
              CLEAN          MR. RUST
              PLEDGE         PROMISE
              -Same commercial impression:
              Using similar or identical design elements in a trademark may cause confusion as this will create a similar overall commercial impression. As a bottom line, if two trademarks create the same mental reaction to the end consumer, then these will likely be deemed confusingly similar.

              Commercial relationship between trademarks
              The similarity between two trademarks is not an equation, only courts will have a final say on the likelihood of confusion. With that said, even if trademarks are found to be confusingly similar, the likelihood of confusion among trademark consumers will only hold if the underlying goods or services the trademarks are used and/or protected on are similar, identical, or related.
              • Identical goods are pretty straightforward to define. These goods are the same class number and specific goods/services chosen. Sharing an identical class in the nice classification is not always sufficient to state that the goods and services are identical.
              •  Similar or related goods or services do not have to be identical. These goods can be related to the way they are purchased, consumed, or thought of by a consumer. For example, yoga pants and a yoga mat, or advertising services and magazines.
              If you would like to learn more about the likelihood of confusion, the US trademark and patent office has many videos and readings about that on their resources page.
              If the trademark examiner determines that the trademark does not meet all standards, then the trademark will be rejected, or office action will be issued. The filing fees will not be refunded even if the application is refused.

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              Costs for trademark registration in United States

              Costs relating to trademark registration are both official and professional. Official fees are fees paid to the government for processing your trademark registration and are required to be paid for each phase of the process.

              Professional fees for trademark registration

              Professional fees for trademark registration in USA ranges from USD460 to USD3,500 depending on the service provider you are working with. Easy trademarks provide cost-effective solutions and have professional fees depending on the package you choose, as we leverage legal technology, which provides the brand owners with the ability to get premium service, consistency, and delivery with a cost-effective price. Once you are ready to start, choose the package you want and you will see the total official fees and professional fees for each package. Refer to Build your proposal to calculate the fees

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              Official fees for trademark registration

              Official fees for trademarks depend on: 

              What goods and services are chosen 

              Whether the trademark is filed on an intent to use basis or actual use basis 

              Official USPTO fees for predetermined list of goods = USD250

              Official USPTO fees for a free form list of goods = USD350 
              Official fees for statement of use = USD100 
              For more information on fees the USPTO website publishes all official fees. 

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              How long is a trademark protected for?

              From the date of its registration, a trademark is legally protected in the USA for ten years. After paying the maintenance fees and renewal fee, the trademark owner can renew the registration if he intends to seek additional growth.

              When does the protection of a trademark in United States start?

              Trademark protection starts from the date the trademark is registered at the USPTO. 

              What trademark classes are available in United States?

              A trademark owner who is usually referred to as an applicant has to file a trademark on each class required in the United States. Each class for trademarks has separate fees which should be settled. An applicant can protect a trademark on all 45 classes. Every trademark is registered on a specific list of goods (products or services). While there is no limitation on the number of classes or the underlying goods chosen, however each good chosen should be supported by some form of use to maintain the trademark. 

              What are the documents required for trademark protection in United States?

              • Application form
              • Applicant's address and identity proof copies
              • Business details
              • Letter of power of attorney (if filed through an attorney)
              • Proposed trademark's digital version
              • Copy of the applicant's passport (if an individual) 
              • Specimen of how the trademark is used in commerce

               Refer to our templates and forms to download the templates or start the process and the documents will be automatically downloaded and filled in for your completion!

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              What are important deadlines for trademark protection in United States?

              The USPTO implements strict deadlines when processing trademark applications. There are strict deadlines to ensure a trademark application is maintained: 

              • Publishing a trademark in USA after a notice of allowance is issued - 30 days but can be extended by a third party with interest in opposing the mark 
              • Responding to a trademark office action in the USA 90 (3 months) 
              • Declaration of Use and/or Excusable Nonuse should be filed

              -Between the fifth and sixth years after the registration

              -Between the ninth and 10th years after the registration date 

              • Application for Renewal should be filed between the 9th and 10th year after registration

              Are international trademarks available in United States?

              An international application can designate the United States of America. If you want to register your trademark internationally and target specific countries, you can designate the USA through an international application, country code US. 

              National Vs International trademark in United States?

              USA can be designated as part of an international application, however as the USPTO criteria and threshold for classification, and use is high, there is a high percentage of international applications which receive an office action on the basis that the goods are too broad and/or that the trademark is confusingly similar to a previously registered mark. 

              Local tips for trademark registration in United States

              • Even if trademarks are spelled differently but sound alike, then the trademark office will consider them phonetic equivalents and may, therefore, refuse the trademark application.
              • The trademarks can look and sound completely different; however, if the trademarks have the same meaning in the same or different languages, then this is sufficient for the trademark office in the United States to reject the trademark on the grounds of being confusingly similar. 
              • Marks with non-English words require translation in order to be registered.
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              Service level guarantee for trademark registration in United States

              Trademark registration helps you protect your intellectual property. While we have no control over decisions issued by the USPTO, our data set and technology use historical decisions to ensure a smoother application process. We cannot guarantee you will not receive an office action, but with our proprietary system owned by Easy Trademarks we guarantee the level of service you will receive.

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              Let's chat! Our team of experts are here to answer any questions you have, whether it is about licensing our technology or learning about the local trademark process.

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