Registering a Trademark From Start to Finish

Starting a website/business comes with some baggage that can be quite difficult to carry, especially for individuals who have little to no experience with the many legal elements of starting a business. Due to a limited budget I was forced to tackle some pretty daunting tasks on my own. One of the more difficult tasks was protecting our business through the registration of a trademark. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) can be an intimidating entity. They possess the power to approve or deny your trademark registration which, if denied, could end up costing you more than just large sums of money. Through research, attention to detail, and the drive to reach your goal, registering your own trademark isn’t a pipe dream; it can be done.

Of course utilizing an attorney for your trademark registration is always the safest choice if you have the thousands of dollars to cover the cost. However, I’m willing to bet there are a lot of startups out there that simply can’t afford the added burden to their pocket book. If you’ve come to the conclusion that you can’t afford an attorney this article was written for you and will hopefully provide you with an overview of the entire process of registering a trademark.

Even with the absence of an attorney you still need to be prepared to pay $350.00 – $1,500.00 for the USPTO filing fees. There is a reason the cost can vary so much; it depends on how many classes you need to register. At the time this article was written the fee/charge per class was $325.00 (Please follow the second link at the end of this article to find the current fee schedule). A class or more specifically classification is used to identify the goods or services that correspond to your trademark/business. Some businesses offer goods or services that can’t be adequately covered by a single class, this is when the costs can really add up. It should also be noted that a trademark can also be considered a service mark depending on the type of business for which the mark is being registered.

Unfortunately, the cost of registering a trademark isn’t the only issue. The fine folks at the USPTO are meticulous with details (for good reason) and offer little room for error. If you make any critical mistakes on your application you may find yourself out of the non-refundable registration/filing fees. Your first step should be to review all of the information USPTO offers on their website. After you feel comfortable with what you’ve reviewed, search their TESS database for similar logos/marks as well as similar names. If there are trademarks that bare similarities I would recommend speaking to an attorney or doing additional research before you continue because this presents additional variables that I did not encounter during my trademark registration.

After you’ve reviewed the information on and made sure there are no similarly registered trademarks, it’s time to do more research. The best advice I can give you is to use the TESS search to find similar businesses and/or websites that have successfully registered their trademarks and review the information they used for their registration. By no means whatsoever am I recommending you copy their information (this would be illegal and more than likely pointless), just use it as a tool to make sure you’re looking in the right direction. I wouldn’t stop with reviewing just one similar businesses trademark, look at several. I would focus on two things while doing your research. First, pay close attention to the writing style of the descriptions keeping an eye out for specific terminology and look at the way the description is phrased; if their trademark was approved they must have done it right. Secondly, you can use similar businesses to help narrow down an appropriate class or classes for your application.

There are two basic formats for trademark registration; standard character and stylized. The standard character format is for the registration of words alone, with no claim to any special font or designs. The standard character format was used when registering, “disagreeing has never been so much fun”’s slogan. The stylized format is what was used for the name/logo due to the uniqueness of the logo’s design and the fact that there were special fonts and illustrations claimed as a part of the trademark. The latter is obviously much more difficult to register due to the scrupulous detail required to satisfy the requirements set by the USPTO. If your trademark requires a stylized registration I strongly suggest going the extra mile when writing the description of the mark. In my opinion it is better to cover all of your bases with a lot of detail rather than being too lax with your description leaving room for questions.

If you’re like me then you would probably expect a pretty quick turnaround after forking out hundreds of dollars to register your trademark; think again. I’m sure the USPTO is very busy and the type of data they handle is very detailed and extremely important to many individuals and companies alike. However, I was pretty shocked when I found out the timeline was three to six months before an examining attorney would even look at my application. It took roughly two and a half months for an examining attorney to look at our application. It is also estimated that the entire process from filing to final registration will take between thirteen and sixteen months. When you file without an attorney this can be a pretty painful and worrisome wait; wondering if everything was submitted correctly.

After your application is reviewed by the attorney he/she will give you an approval or denial for the official publication of the USPTO gazette. If approved you will eventually be provided a date your trademark will be published, at which point there will be a waiting period of 30 days. During this time anyone who has reason to oppose the registration of your trademark has the right to contact the USPTO. I guess a good analogy would be speak now or forever hold your peace.

After patiently waiting over five and a half months the day finally came, our logo was published in the official Gazette. If there was one thing I learned up to this point it was that I should never expect anything to happen overnight with the USPTO. Thirty days of patience came and went and so did another two months before I heard anything. I guess I expected the USPTO to throw me a congratulatory party in recognition of my trademarked achievement but they didn’t. Actually, I didn’t even get an email, I found out our trademark had been finalized by checking the status on the USPTO website. Either way it is a good feeling to know 252 days of my life did not go to waste. I did eventually receive a nice certificate of registration from the USPTO which will be framed and placed in my office as a reminder of the completion of this difficult task. I hope this article helps shed some light on what to expect as you embark on a critical yet time consuming journey of registering a trademark.

Real Life Timeline of the Trademark Registration Process:

  • Day 1 – Trademark application submitted
  • Day 85 – Assigned to legal instruments examiner (LIE)
  • Day 117 – Assigned to examining attorney
  • Day 123 – Approved for publication (Initial Exam)
  • Day 165 – Published for opposition (Official Gazette)
  • Day 252 – Trademark registration completed

USPTO Links:

USPTO Home Page

Fee Schedule

Online Store – Small Start, Large Fortune

All of us know about Amazon. This is one of the biggest online stores in the world. Another name in the category of online stores is Alibaba, owned by a Chinese, Jack Ma. Most of the time we see these two names in search results when we look for a consumer product on the internet. Gone are the days when we had to go out for shopping. Now almost all types of consumer products are available online, that too on a global level. People can have their required things while sitting at home or office.

The concept of online stores started from the West and now is a growing trend in Asian countries. Seeing their popularity, many brands, and businesses got online. All big corporate names have an online presence now. Social media has played a great role in it. Brands and individuals own online stores also. Individuals along with their teams or families are also inclined toward opening online stores with a wide range of products. It includes books and magazines, garments, furniture, cosmetics and handbags, herbal products and medicines, construction material, electronic, and jewelry, etc. The sole purpose of opening an online store is to expand the outreach and tap in the maximum number of potential customers. An online store can give us a huge fortune as a long-term business even if it started on a small or medium scale.

Let’s have a look at how an online store is different from physical shops and what benefits are there for you that are not available otherwise.

No requirement of physical space:

Your presence will be web-based so you don’t need to worry about hiring or purchasing a physical space, buying bulk/huge consignments of items or goods at once, and their storage. However, you have to pay for a domain name and relevant charges.

No middleman hassles:

You can pick up the items/goods direct from a factory or manufacturer and transport it to the customer at retail price. Your profit ratio will also be high because of no middleman. A very useful tip for small and medium-sized industries and home-based handicrafts is that they can reach out to potential customers and get orders directly. But for this, they will have to spend reasonably on advertising.

Work according to the capacity and resources:

Are you to manage the store on your own or is a team or family there to help you? Make a work plan accordingly. If you are the sole manager, you can do it as part-time along with your job. You can expand it according to the available resources and when it begins to give you a reasonable monthly or annual income, you can quit your job or other work.

Manage it while on the go:

You can manage your online store while travelling with the help of a tab, laptop, or smart phone. No hassle of being bound to sit in a place.

Long-term benefits and safe investment:

You invest a small or reasonable amount according to the circumstances in an online store at first. So, the investment is safer than other businesses. First, it is slow but with the passage of time, it starts gaining customers and huge benefits. It will fetch long-term benefits if you keep on working ‘slow and steady’.

Product-wise distribution of work:

If a team or family is helping you out in managing and maintaining the online store, you can distribute work product-wise. Like, females can handle cosmetics, handbags, ladies’ garments etc., while males can take care of technical and electronic items. This work distribution can make things easy.

Now have a look at a few requirements also for maintaining a great online store and reaping the benefits.

Attention-grabbing and user-friendly design:

Hire the designers and inventory experts for designing the store who are already experienced in this field. For multiple types of items in the store, you will have to make sections. Links, buttons for easy navigation, ordering and cart, newsletter sign-up, and other necessary things must be there. Keep on reviewing the design every two years or so.

Advertisement and social media presence:

All of us use social media these days so it is a great way to catch up with the customers and market. Make social media pages/profiles of your online store and available products, and rightly advertise it to the specific audience.

High quality products and customer service:

Make no compromise on quality and customer service! Sometimes, customers complain that they get a different item from the one they ordered or selected. This puts a bad impression on customers and the repute of online store suffers. Give customers what you claim to give. Only good customer service can earn you a great name. The better the customer service, the more positive the outcome.

On time response and delivery:

Check out the orders regularly and deliver the items on time. Set a specific period for delivery like 24 hours for local orders and 48 or 72 hours for out of the city and away places. Delay in response and delivery is going to hurt your business and reputation. Arrange for a live chat with customers as well.

Product description and charges clearly specified:

Specify the charges including product price and shipment fee clearly with each product. There must not a confusion between the price mentioned online and the price demanded at the time of delivery or purchase.

Wise spending:

Hire a financial consultant who can guide you concerning how to spend money and on which things. Do research and study about the operations and running of online stores. Your financial consultant must be knowledgeable and expert in online store management as well as inventory.

Storage space for expansion:

If and when you need a new space for storage, you will have to arrange for it as soon as possible. The internet is the greatest source of having knowledge concerning online store management, inventory, and storage. Study the way it works. You may need to do things like that in future for your own store. Keep a keen eye on everything going on and be ready to act according to the new situations.

Hard work for reputation:

You have to spare a reasonable amount of time for making your online store a success. First, you may not need to give long hours but once your store start running successfully, you will have to give full-time and attention to it.

With dedication and hard work, you will surely get the result of your efforts.

How Do I Start a Baby-Modeling Career?

All parents believe that their babies are cute, but let’s face it. Some babies are much cuter than others. If your child falls under this category then you have probably thought of getting your baby to dabble in modeling. This has a number of advantages. The first being that you could already start saving up for their college education with the large paychecks they will be receiving. Secondly, your baby will grow up more socialized than other babies. So how do you go about getting your baby into modeling?

You should be clear about your reasons for getting your baby into modeling. Your child is not a slave; neither are they your retirement plan. You should save up the money that they get from their jobs so that it can benefit them. Also, you should keep in mind your child may grow up and detest modeling. This is their choice. You should not force them into it once they have the ability to make their own decisions.

The first rule in baby modeling is having your baby already settled into a routine. This may be a venture for you and your baby, but for the people in the modeling industry they are running a business-a lucrative one at that! For the same reason, they would rather work with babies that are not fussy as this will not slow down the production process leading to extra charges for studio time and what not. If your baby has an established routine already chances are they will not get cranky on set and interrupt shoots. This will make your baby easy to work with.

Before you go to a modeling agency for babies, ensure that you have taken a number of pictures of your baby. Unlike adults and kids who need professional headshots before you sign up with a modeling agency, babies just need quality pictures of them in various positions. If your baby is cute, then the modeling agency will sign them on to their stable.

You should ensure that you are always there during photo shoots that involve your baby. In some occasions, seeing you may make the baby finicky as they will want to be with their parent and not strangers. In these instances, you can leave the room, but should remain close by in case of anything. This is not to scare you; utmost care is taken when working with babies. But the best option is to always have the parent around during the baby’s shoots.

Lastly, remember that your baby is not the only baby in the industry. Do not start behaving like your baby is better than other babies as nobody wants to work with a difficult parent. Instead you should be pleasant and try to cultivate as many relationships as you can in the baby modeling industry. You never know how the other mothers can help you out with tips and what not. In addition, relationships with the casting crew may help your baby further their modeling career in future.

Source by Richard Landy