How to Trademark According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, a trademark is utilized to differentiate the origin of a product from another source. This differentiation can be identified by a particular design, symbol, phrase, or word. In other words, a trademark is a brand name used to identify your goods or services. Why You Should Consider a Trademark Although you don’t have to trademark your brand name, it may prove to be an extremely wise tool, as a registered trademark grants you exclusive rights to use your mark in connection with any goods or services offered by your company. By learning how to trademark, you enjoy legal protection nationally, which allows you to claim ownership and prevent other companies from using the same mark. Steps on How to Trademark Applying for a trademark is a fairly uncomplicated process, and can be completed, start to finish, through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s website (www.uspto.gov). Learning how to trademark your endeavors is as simple as following these guidelines: 1. Research the USPTO’s database before filing for your trademark to determine if someone else has already claimed the mark. The online search system, called the Trademark Electronic Search System, or TESS, enables you to search for both the mark and the design element, if applicable. You may also search the USPTO’s database by visiting the Trademark Public Search Library in Alexandria, VA, or visiting a Patent and Trademark Depository Library in your area. The depository libraries are stocked with CD-ROMSs of the library’s database. 2. If your search finds a similar mark, you will want to check its status using the Trademark Applications and Registrations Retrieval, or TARR, which is available on the PTO’s website. 3. If your search has not yielded any active trademarks, you can begin to draft a description of the goods and services that are being used or will be used in connection with your mark using the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS), available on the PTO’s website. Your trademark application must be specific, as it needs to show how your mark is being used or how you will use your mark in the future. 4. Pay for your trademark application through the TEAS with a credit card or an electronic funds transfer. After the US PTO has determined that you have met the minimum filing requirements for your mark, and you have paid the related fees, you will be sent an email confirmation, along with a serial number. 5. Monitor the progress of your trademark application through the TARR database. Use your assigned serial number for all searches and correspondence related to your trademark application. 6. Expect a response in about five to six months from the PTO. It is not, however, uncommon to wait more than a year in some cases where legal issues may be present. 7. Pay your notice of allowance and subsequently submit either a statement of use or an extension request. Your statement of use is a sworn statement and proof that you have used the trademark in commerce for goods and/or services. Once you know how to trademark your name, you can definitively protect your company and endeavors from misuse.