How to Register a Trademark in Virginia?

Introduction Starting a business is an exciting time, but it’s also an important one. You need to make sure that you have everything in order and that you are prepared for the challenges ahead. One of the most important things for any business is protecting your intellectual property (IP). Whether you come up with a great name for your company or find something else that sets you apart from other businesses, like a logo or slogan, registering a trademark can help protect what makes your business unique and sets it apart from others. This article will explain how to register a trademark in Virginia and how to protect yourself from competitors who may try to copy what makes you special. Availability of Name Before you file a trademark application, be sure that your business name is available for use. If you have already registered a trademark in another country or state, you may use the same name in Virginia. If your proposed mark is the same as or confusingly similar to an existing registered mark, it may not be registerable and will require additional research before filing an application. When choosing a business name, keep in mind that these guidelines apply:
  • The name should not be misleading as to its source of origin or affiliation with other parties.
  • The name should not include any geographic location unless that place has become synonymous with the product being sold there.
Conduct a Trademark Search A trademark search is a thorough examination of the existing trademarks currently registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The purpose of a trademark search is to determine whether there are any conflicts between your proposed mark and an existing mark that's already been registered with the USPTO, or likely to be registered in the future. If there are no conflicts, you'll be able to proceed with filing for trademark protection without having to change your brand name or logo at all. File an Application You may file an application for registration of a trademark online or by mail. The online option is free and faster than filing a paper application by mail, which can take up to one year from the date filed to complete processing in Virginia. An online application is more secure than a paper application because it requires you to enter information that only you would know, such as your address and social security number, and creates an electronic signature using high-security encryption technology. The trademark office offers a secure server that encrypts information before sending it over the internet so others cannot read it. The online application will ask you to provide:
  • Your full name and address (unless you have filed with the trademark office before)
  • The mark for which you are registering (i.e., what your product or service is called)
  • A description of your mark
Pay Filing and Application Fees The filing fee is the same whether you are filing a standard application or an electronic application. For electronic filing, the processing fee is $50 more per class. Filing fees range from $100-$800 and application fees range from $100 to $800, depending on the number of classes for which you're seeking registration. Wait for Approval If your application is approved, you will receive an "Office Action" in the mail. It contains detailed information about why the trademark office has decided to approve or deny your application. If they have approved your application, you may be asked to provide additional information before your mark is officially registered with them. If there are any objections to your mark from other parties, such as competing trademarks or evidence that someone else may own rights to the same name or phrase as you (for example, if someone else has been using it for advertising for more than 5 years), then those objections will be listed within this letter too and must be addressed before final approval of your trademark can occur. Takeaway If you have a product or service that you want to protect, registering a trademark in Virginia follows the same steps as in other states. The process starts with filing an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Your application will include your name, address, and contact information, a description of your product or service, what colors and logos represent it; how it's marketed and sold; who owns the rights to it, how many times it has been used in commerce (meaning sold or offered for sale); whether there are any related marks already registered by others at the USPTO, whether anyone else has filed an intent-to-use application on their own behalf for use on similar products or services (you can learn more about this process here) etc. Conclusion Registering a trademark in Virginia is a simple process that can be completed in as little as 10 minutes. The key to success is doing your research and making sure you have the right name before you start the process. It’s also important to confirm that someone else hasn’t already registered their mark with the USPTO so that no one else has exclusive rights over what would otherwise become yours.