Skip Navigation

PTRC Logo

Frequently Asked Questions about Trademarks

  1. I searched the USPTO Trademark Database and found some trademarks that are similar to mine, but not exactly the same. What should I do next? 
  2. I searched the USPTO Trademark Database and found nothing that matches my idea. Does that mean nobody is using it as a trademark?
  3. My trademark includes an image, or logo. Can I search the USPTO Trademark Database for images, in addition to words and phrases? 
  4. Why should I register my trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office?
  5. Where can I get trademark application forms?
  6. How much does it cost to federally register a trademark? 
  7. Is there a graphic associated with a Maine state trademark such as tm or r in a circle?
  8. Interstate commerce question regarding Federally registered trademarks?
  9. Once you have Federally registered a trademark can you go back and register for another class or do you have to go through the whole process again?
  10. What additional benefits accrue by registering in the state if you are already registered federally?
  11. If a federal trademark is listed as "dead" can anyone re-register it or does the original holder retain some rights?

Also see other frequently asked questions about trademarks at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office web site.

1. I searched the Trademark Database at the USPTO website and found some trademarks that are similar to mine, but not exactly the same. What should I do next?
Even if trademarks are not exactly the same, they may be similar enough to "confuse the consumer." Each trademark record notes the type of goods or services for which the trademark is used. How similar is the good or service to yours? In any case, marks that are similar to another mark that is already in use may result in an infringement or a refused registration. See the Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure(Section 1200) for information on a Refusal on Basis of Likelihood of Confusion, Mistake or Deception - Section 1207.

2. I searched the Trademark Database at the USPTO website and found nothing that matches my idea. Does that mean nobody is using it as a trademark?
Not necessarily. Sometimes people register their trademarks only at the state level. State trademark databases can be found at http://statetm.tripod.com. A search of other information sources, such as phone directories, manufacturers’ directories, or an Internet search, may reveal other previous uses of your proposed trademark. Keep in mind that the first user of a trademark, even an unregistered one, does have some common law rights against infringement. 

3. My trademark includes an image, or logo. Is there any way of searching the USPTO Trademark Database for images, in addition to words and phrases? 
Yes, you can search the U.S. trademark database for specific types of images. Each type of image has its own design code. For example, the design code for an igloo is 07.01.09. Any trademark depicting an igloo can be found by searching the database for that design code. To view a list of design codes, see the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's "Trademark Design Code Manual".  Once you know the design code you want to search for, search the USPTO Trademark Database using the "Structured Search" option. In one of the search boxes, enter the 6-digit design code, WITHOUT the periods. Select "Design Code" from the pull-down menu next to the search box. Then click on the "Submit Query" button. For example, a search of design code 070109 will find all registered (and "dead") logos containing the image of an igloo.  

4. Why should I register my trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office?
Federal registration is not required in order to use a trademark, but it gives the trademark owner certain benefits, such as the presumption of trademark ownership and the presumption that infringement was deliberate. See the Basic Facts About Trademarks for more information.

5. Where can I get trademark application forms?
Federal registration forms can be printed from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website. The USPTO very much prefers to receive trademark applications in electronic format. Review the information at their Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) to decide if you would like to file an electronic application. If you are not able to connect to the internet please try to visit the Fogler Library PTRC or call for assistance - 207-581-1678. See also the Basic Facts About Trademarks.

It may be beneficial to contact a trademark attorney for advice on your application. The names of attorneys who specialize in trademark law may be found in the telephone yellow pages, or by contacting the Maine Bar Association. The Maine Lawyer Referral & Information Service may be able to assist you by referring you to a lawyer in your area who handles intellectual property work. You can contact the service at 1-207-622-1460 or 1-800-860-1460.

State of Maine registration forms may be downloaded at the Maine Secretary of State website or obtained by calling the Department of Corporations at the Secretary of State, 207-287-4190. You may also call the Fogler Library PTRC at 207-581-1678 for forms and assistance.

6. How much does it cost to federally register a trademark?
The application fee is $335 per trademark and per class of goods or services for which the trademark is registered. The application fee is not refundable if your trademark is refused; therefore it is a good idea to choose a trademark wisely and to do a trademark search before sending in the application. Other fees, such as renewal fees, will also apply.  See the Fees and Payment page for more information.

7. Is there a graphic associated with a Maine state trademark such as tm or r in a circle?
There is no graphic designation for a Maine state trademark
Answer received by telephoning the Maine Department of the Secretary of State, Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions, Division of Corporations, Examining Section at (207) 624-7740.

8. Interstate commerce question regarding Federally registered trademarks. The following is cut and pasted from: http://www.uspto.gov/go/tac/doc/basic/ Types of Applications for Federal Registration:
An applicant may apply for federal registration in three principal ways. (1) An applicant who has already commenced using a mark in commerce may file based on that use (a "use" application). (2) An applicant who has not yet used the mark may apply based on a bona fide intention to use the mark in commerce (an "intent-to-use" application). For the purpose of obtaining federal registration, commerce means all commerce which may lawfully be regulated by the U.S. Congress, for example, interstate commerce or commerce between the U.S. and another country. The use in commerce must be a bona fide use in the ordinary course of trade, and not made merely to reserve a right in a mark. Use of a mark in promotion or advertising before the product or service is actually provided under the mark on a normal commercial scale does not qualify as use in commerce. Use of a mark in purely local commerce within a state does not qualify as "use in commerce." If an applicant files based on a bona fide intention to use in commerce, the applicant will have to use the mark in commerce and submit an allegation of use to the PTO before the PTO will register the mark (See page 12). (3) Additionally, under certain international agreements, an applicant from outside the United States may file in the United States based on an application or registration in another country.

9. Once you have Federally registered a trademark can you go back and register for another class or do you have to go through the whole process again?
From the Trademark Assistance Center at 1-800-786-9199 - you must go through the whole process again.

10. What additional benefits accrue by registering in the state if you are already registered federally?
Its puts local people on notice that you are here and using this trademark. For additional information on this please call the Maine Department of the Secretary of State, Bureau of Corporations, Elections and Commissions, Division of Corporations, Examining Section at (207) 624-7740

11. If a federal trademark is listed as "dead" can anyone re-register it or does the original holder retain some rights?
From the Trademark Assistance Center at 1-800-786-9199 - that decision would be up to a trademark examiner.

Return to the Fogler Library Patent and Trademark Resource Center homepage. 

 

For more information, contact:
Martin Wallace
Science and Engineering Center
Patent and Trademark Depository
Raymond H. Fogler Library
Orono, Maine 04469-5729 
Phone: 207-581-1678


Created by: Martin Wallace | Revised: 04/18/2014

5729 Fogler Library
University of Maine
Orono, ME 04469-5729
Phone: 207-581-1661 | Fax: 207-581-1653
© Copyright 2000-2014
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469
207-581-1865