If you want to ace a test in school, what do you do? You prepare in advance. The same principle applies for your the U.S. trademark application form. If you want the greatest chances for approval, you should prepare ahead of time.
The more you understand what the application contains, the more completely you can prepare. If you approach the application knowing what lies ahead, you can complete it thoroughly and provide the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) with every bit of information they need.
Before you even think about filling out the U.S. trademark application form, though, you should understand the two types of electronic applications available through the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS): standard TEAS and TEAS Plus.
TEAS and TEAS Plus
Before you start the trademark application process you must understand the two types of electronic applications the USPTO allows. These forms require different levels of detail, and therefore incur different fees.
The recommended form is TEAS Plus. Despite the name, the fee for TEAS Plus is actually $50 less than the standard TEAS. TEAS Plus costs less because it requires additional and more specific information. To file a TEAS Plus form you must:
- Fill in every single field on the form
- Select a class of goods or services from the acceptable identification list
- Some customizations are allowed, but the good or service must fall generally within one of the defined classes
- If you believe your goods or services fall into a class that does not appear you can email the USPTO a request; this would, however, render you ineligible to file presently
- Agree to file all later communications, such as responses to Office Actions, through TEAS
- Receive all communications regarding your trademark application through email
If you can fulfill all of the above requirements, you will pay a $350 fee for the trademark application. If at any time you fail to meet any of these requirements – including the filing of a paper form when a TEAS form exists – you have to pay an additional $50.
If you know that you cannot fulfill any one of the above requirements, you must file a standard TEAS form. The fee for this is $325 per class. As you can see, it’s preferable to have your information ready and save the $50 per class filing fee.
What exactly goes onto the U.S. trademark application form? Here is a general overview of the fields.
Owner of Mark: To be clear, this covers the individual or company filing for the mark, not the person preparing the application. Individuals, trusts, estates, and corporations will fill out just one owner. Partners both claiming ownership will have to fill out information for each partner.
DBA/AKA/TA/FKA: If you are doing business as a name other than the owner’s name, list it here. This field also covers also known as, trading as, and formerly known as monikers. (More on DBAs here.)
Entity type: The choices are individual, corporation, LLC, partnership, limited partnership, joint venture, sole proprietorship, trust, or estate.
Address and contact information: This is all pretty standard. While a phone number, fax number, and website address are not required fields, it is recommended that you fill them regardless. Again, a TEAS Plus filing essentially turns all fields into required fields.
The mark itself: Here you can either enter standard characters, for a name or phrase trademark, or a .jpg file for a logo trademark. Note that .jpg is the only acceptable file format. Only one mark is allowed per application, which is why it is important to file both a name and logo separately, even if the name appears in the logo.
Non-visual marks, such as audio files, are allowed. They must be in one of the following file formats: .wav, .wmv, .wma, .mp3, .mpg, or .avi.
Additional statements: Chances are your application will not require any additional statements, but there is a field for these special cases. This often involves information from prior registrations.
Classes of goods or services: Since you must choose classes that precisely describes your goods or services, it is best to look at the list of trademark classes before starting your application. If an appropriate description of goods/services does not exist you can request its addition, but you cannot file the form immediately. In other words, you’ll want to know about this beforehand, so you don’t have to cease filling out your application at this point.
Please note that you will select from a list much more specific than the general classifications. Each class contains many different business types. This is why you must find one that precisely defines your business.
Declaration of use: You will have to declare whether you are currently using the mark in commerce or intend to use the mark at a later date, and whether it is a foreign mark.
Official correspondent: Here, you fill out the person with whom the USPTO will correspond. This will be the trademark attorney, if you have hired one.
The above covers most of what appears on the TEAS and TEAS Plus forms. With the standard TEAS you won’t have to submit information in such detail, but you will likely be subjected to a slower approval process. Providing the more specific information with TEAS Plus will not only save you $50, but will make it easier for the USPTO to review your application.
In the application process you will be asked whether you have a domestic representative. This is only for addressees outside the U.S. who have a representative within the country.
Given the detailed information the USPTO requires, it is easy to see why they recommend hiring an attorney to handle the application filing. From the specific filing class to the proof of use in commerce, an attorney can help you navigate the application and gain the greatest chances for approval.
Again, it is possible for anyone to fill out this application. If you feel you are familiar enough with the requirements, you can go to the USPTO website and start your application immediately.