It’s usually a good idea to register a trademark. *This really should be done with help from a lawyer.
Here are the steps in the process:
1. Clear the mark - this means make sure the mark is available. Do a trademark search to make sure the mark is not in use in your market;
2. File an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office (the “USPTO”);
3. The application is examined at the Trademark Office.
4. If everything looks good and there are no issues, the Examiner issues a Notice of Publication.
5. If the Examiner finds any problems - big or small - you will receive an “Office Action” listing the issues that need to be addressed before the application can move on to Publication.
These could be small and non-substantive: wording on a description of goods; clarifying questions; consent for proper names; or big and substantive: the mark is too descriptive, or it is likely to be confused with another mark that’s already been registered or applied for.
6. If you get an Office Action, you need to file a Response addressing the issues raised. Sometimes it takes more than one round of Office Actions and Responses to resolve all issues.
If the issues are not resolved, the Examiner could issue a Final Office Action, which gives you one last chance at arguments (a Petition for Reconsideration) and an opportunity to appeal to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.
7. Okay, moving back to publication. This means that the office makes your application public - and anyone who wants to challenge the mark has 30 days to do so.
8. After the 30-day publication period, if you have already demonstrated use of the mark to the USPTO, your trademark gets registered! If you filed in anticipation of using the mark (filing based on intent to use), there’s one more step.
9. You get something called a Notice of Allowance - this means you have 6 months to demonstrate use of the mark to the USPTO by filing a Statement of Use - basically evidence that you are using the mark (called a “specimen”) and the “Date of First Use” - the date you started using the mark in commerce. The Statement of Use deadline can be extended in six-month increments (for a fee), but you’ll need to demonstrate use within three years of the date of the Notice of Allowance.
10. Once that’s done, your trademark gets registered.