Whether you’re a musician, painter, sculptor, writer, actor, influencer, blogger or vlogger, it’s likely that you’ve heard about protecting your name and works via a trademark. Below is some basic trademark information that can help you do just that.
Can I Protect My Name as a Trademark?
Yes, you can. Trademark law protects source indicators such as names, slogans, designs, and logos used on and in connection with goods and services, such as musical performances and merchandise.
While you do not need to register your trademark in order to obtain rights in it, there are many advantages to obtaining a federal registration in the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for your mark that you cannot have any other way.
Why Should I Care About Federal Trademark Protection?
As an artist, you want your fans to be able to find you and purchase your products and services, not purchase them from someone who sounds like you. One of the presumptions that comes with a federal trademark registration is that you have the exclusive right to use the mark in connection with the registered products and services. Federal registrations are also very powerful tools to use against counterfeiters and in social media takedown proceedings.
How to Federally Register Your Artist Name in the United States
Below, we have outlined how to register your artist name as a trademark.
Hire an Attorney
The best thing you can do to make sure the entire trademark process moves smoothly is to hire an experienced trademark attorney!
An attorney can help provide crucial legal advice about trademark law and can explain all the nuances that may apply to your specific situation. This includes guiding you through every step of the process, from conducting trademark searches and filing applications to registration and post-registration maintenance requirements. Your attorney will keep track of filing deadlines related to your application and can help minimize the stress involved in this process by explaining each step and your options for how to proceed.
Importantly, hiring an attorney may help minimize risks involved in the selection, adoption, and use of a trademark, as well as avoid potential pitfalls that could invalidate your trademark registration.
One of the most important goals of trademark law is to avoid confusion amongst the public. In fact, the standard for trademark infringement is whether there is a likelihood of consumer confusion between two trademarks. Trademark availability searches allow attorneys to review the federal and state trademark databases for identical and similar marks to be able to gauge your level of risk in using the mark and your likelihood of being able to obtain a registration.
Federal Trademark Applications
The information required for a particular federal trademark application will vary, but at the very least all applications must include the mark, the owner, the description of goods and services, and certain information about the use of the mark if the mark has in fact been used (you do not need to have begun use of a mark prior to filing an application). Each of the requirements is not as simple as they might sound – there are multiple statutes and cases that deal with each, and the law is constantly evolving as to application requirements.
Once your application is filed, it will be assigned a serial number, which allows you to track the application progress through the USPTO’s online Trademark Status and Document Retrieval (TSDR) system.
After filing, your application will be reviewed by one of the USPTO’s trademark examining attorneys in approximately six to eight months. The examining attorney will review the application to check for any issues, which will include a search for conflicting trademarks. This is one of the many reasons a clearance search can be recommended prior to filing. If the examining attorney does flag any issues, an office action will issue with a six-month response period. During that time, an attorney can work with you to try to overcome the issues and move your application forward to publication.
If your trademark application meets the examiner’s requirements, it will be approved for publication in the Official Gazette. This weekly publication provides others with legal notice of your intent to obtain a trademark registration. If your mark isn’t opposed, your application will then proceed to registration.
Your federal trademark registration does not exist in perpetuity without maintenance filings, which requires continued use of the mark on and in connection with the registered goods and services. In order to maintain a federal registration, you have to file a declaration of continued use between the fifth and sixth years of registration and then renewals every ninth and tenth year thereafter. We can docket those deadlines for you and assist with the declarations as well as all associated use requirements.
An Additional Point to Keep in Mind When Registering Your Name as a Trademark in the U.S.
Generally speaking, trademark rights are inherently territorial in nature. This means a federal trademark registration only protects your rights throughout the United States and its territories.
Trademark rights outside the United States vary according to the laws of each country. If you are an international artist or plan to take your talent abroad, it is important to protect your rights abroad as well as domestically. Attorneys in the United States can still file trademark applications in certain other countries via the Madrid Protocol – a treaty that provides a streamlined process for international filings. Our attorneys also work with trademark attorneys throughout the world to provide complete coverage for your mark.
Ready to Protect Your Name? Let a Trademark Attorney at Allen, Dyer, Doppelt + Gilchrist, PA Help You
The most effective way to obtain a federal trademark registration is to work with an experienced trademark attorney. Hiring an attorney can also help relieve some of the stress involved in the trademark prosecution process.
Contact us today to learn more or to schedule a consultation with one of intellectual property lawyers in Orlando, Winter Springs, Jacksonville or Miami, Florida.