Trademark protection is available for symbols, short phrases, designs, words, or a combination of these things, used to identify and distinguish the source of goods. For example, the green mermaid logo that appears on Starbucks cups and signage is protected by trademark. If it's used to identify and distinguish the source of a service (instead of goods) then it's called a service mark, although trademark and service mark are often used interchangeably.
While registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is not required, there are benefits to registration, such as a legal presumption that the registrant is the trademark owner and has the exclusive right to use the mark, and the ability to file a suit regarding the mark in federal court. If a person decides to register a trademark, there are certain procedures that must be followed. One of the requirements that a trademark application must have is a clear drawing of the mark. The USPTO then uses the drawing to file the mark in USPTO's search records and prints it in the Official Gazette. If the trademark application is approved, the drawing of the mark will also be included on the registration certificate.
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The Trademark Application
The basic elements that each trademark application will need to include are:
If you file this application through the USPTO's Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS), it will generate a drawing for you based on the information you enter into the system. The USPTO's Examination Guide provides more information about drawings that are submitted electronically.
If, on the other hand, you would like to prepare the drawing page yourself, you will need to follow specific standards. For example, the paper must be non-shiny white paper that is 8 ½ by 11 inches, and the mark must be a maximum of 3.5 by 3.5 inches. The paper with the drawing must also include a heading with: the applicant's name, correspondence address, listing of goods and/or services, and either the dates the mark has been used or the phrase "intent to use."
The drawing itself can be either a "standard character" drawing or a "stylized or special form" drawing. If you would like your mark to be registered in color, the drawing must be in color and you must include a color claim naming the colors that are a feature of the mark and a statement that describes where the colors appear on the mark. Please be aware that once the application is filed, material changes cannot be made to the mark.
Standard Character vs. Stylized or Special Form Drawings
There are two acceptable formats for the drawing of the mark: standard character and stylized or special form. The standard character drawing is acceptable if the mark meets the following criteria:
You have the freedom to depict the mark in any font. You can also use uppercase and lowercase letters as you wish and can use bold or italicized letters as well. A standard character drawing must also include the following statement: "The mark is presented in standard character format without claim to any particular font style, size, or color."
If the style of lettering is important to the mark, or the mark includes a design, logo, or color, you will need to include a stylized or special form drawing. Unless color is claimed as a feature for the mark, the drawing mark should be depicted in black and white. It's important that the drawing is a "substantially exact representation" of the mark.
Getting Legal Help
If you have questions about the drawing of a mark, or more general questions about trademarks, you may want to consult with an experienced trademarks attorney in your area.