How to Register a Trademark in California
Registering a trademark is one of the most important steps in starting a business. Not only does it give you legal protection for your brand, but it also provides you with an opportunity to grow your brand internationally through foreign markets and agreements with other companies.
Eligible for Registration
Before you begin the process of seeking trademark registration, it's important to make sure that your mark is eligible.
Trademarks are distinctive marks that identify goods or services. In order to register a trademark, you must have an intent to use your mark in commerce and have already used it in commerce (even if only on a limited basis) before filing the application.
Is your Trademark already in Use?
If you're using a trademark that you don't own, or if a mark is being used by another company in the same industry as yours, it could be considered an infringement. To avoid infringing on someone else's rights, it's best to check the USPTO database before filing an application for your own trademark.
Go to https://www.uspto.gov/trademarks-application-process/check-trademark-availability
Complete and Submit the Application
Complete and submit the TM-6 application. If you are applying online, you must use Adobe Reader to view and save your completed form electronically (PDFs cannot be submitted online). The Fee Schedule is included in the form packet as well as online for your convenience.
After completing your application, send it along with all applicable fees to PTO by mail or hand delivery at:
California Secretary of State
Office of Trademark Research & Appeals (OTRA)
1500 11th Street, Ste 400 North
Sacramento CA 95814-5508
Pay the Fees and Receive Your Registered Trademark
You must pay the fees to register your trademark. The fee is $225 per class of goods or services being registered, so if you are registering two classes, it would be $450 in total. If you are registering three or more classes of goods or services, the fee will be $375 per class added.
- You must submit a declaration of use or non-use. This is a form that requires you to state when and where the mark was first used in commerce and how often it has been used since then (if applicable).
- You must submit an affidavit declaring incontestability status under 15 USC Section 1065. It proves no likelihood exists customer confusion between different brands due to confusingly similar marks already registered with USPTO.
Consider the following before starting the process
- Do not wait until the last minute to register your trademark. You want to get it done as soon as possible in order to avoid any unnecessary delays in getting your name protected.
- Don't wait until you are ready to sell your product or start a business before registering your trademark, as this may cause problems down the road when you need protection for an already established company.
- Don't wait until there is a dispute over another company using similar branding that could potentially cause brand confusion in order to get protected by registering for a trademark.
If you are ready to register your trademark, be sure to do so in a timely fashion. It is important that you are aware of the process before beginning and know what can be done if there are any issues along the way. If you are interested in trademark registration, the best place to start is by contacting a trademark attorney. They will be able to help you through each step of the process and ensure that everything goes smoothly.