You rely on using your company’s slogans in marketing, packaging and advertising in order to differentiate your products or services from your competitors. If you want to use your slogan successfully, there are certain steps you must take to protect it. In order to legally protect a slogan it will need to distinguish your product from any other company or product. It cannot be generic or informational. Your best chance of legally protecting a slogan is when it uses a brand name. In this case the slogan can become a trademark, which can be registered with the federal government. Registering a trademark enables you to legally protect use of your slogan in court if someone else tries to use it.
- To register your trademark you will first familiarize yourself with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) rules for applying for trademark registration. Their website has documents which give more information about the rules and terms of the process.
- Next you will search the USPTO database, which is called the Trademark Electronic Search System or TESS. This search will tell you whether anyone is already claiming trademark rights for your slogan. If your mark includes a design element you will need to search by using a design code.
- You will need to create a clear representation of the mark in a suitable format. If your mark relies on design elements you will need to present it in a design format. Also draft a description of the goods and/or services that your mark will be used for.
- You can file your trademark application online at the Trademark Electronic Application System through the USPTO website. There is a fee for application which can be paid by credit card, through an existing USPTO deposit account or by electronic funds transfer. The process usually costs approximately $300.
- Once the application is filed you will receive a summary by email and the application will be assigned a serial number. A response could be received as early as 5-6 months from filing, but may take a year or more depending on any legal issues that arise during examination. You can monitor the application’s progress in the TARR database.
- An examining attorney will review the application and determine whether it complies with rules and statutes. Any needed changes to the application will be requested by letter. If a response is not received within 6 months the application will be declared abandoned.
If the final draft still isn't sufficient the attorney will issue a final refusal which can be appealed through the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. Otherwise the mark will be published in the USPTO weekly Official Gazette. If no one files an opposition to the mark a registration certificate will be issued.