If you have a company, you probably have some assets to trademark. You probably spent some money to hire a graphic designer for your business logo and branding, complete with a color palette, a company seal, and letterhead to match. These tools will help your business command unmatched visibility in your industry.
All these pieces, when put together, form a trademark. But what is a trademark? A trademark is any design used to represent a business or organization and set it apart from others in that particular niche. It can be a drawing, symbol, letter, or word legally registered to represent an individual or organization.
What Is The Trademark Statement Of Use?
A statement of use trademark (SOU) is an official form used by the patent and trademark office to register trademarks legally. Now that you have this fantastic business idea you want to start, it’s about time you launch your beautiful logo or design to the public.
You should know that many people seek inspiration to remain relevant in business. Your business trademarks could transform their business in many ways than you think. That’s why the patent and trademark office comes to your rescue. The United States patent and trademark office won’t allow a business to register a trademark unless it’s in business. What does this mean? It means that no matter how good your trademark associated with your business may be, you can’t use it until you file the SOU.
The patent and trademark office won’t allow an individual or organization to apply for the SOU to tie it up. You must prove that you’re engaged in active business operations. Therefore, before you file for the SOU, you need to prove to the patent and trademark office that you’re using it for business.
How do you prove that that trademark you are filing for is in use? The patent and trademark office will ask for a sample of your products or services associated with the trademark before approval. You have to display the trademark design on your products through packing or service distribution and marketing tools before you’re allowed to fill the SOU.
Nonetheless, the good thing is that if you filed for your trademark based on the intent to use it, then you’re required by law to fill the SOU to prove that you’re using it to sell goods and services. You may have the perfect trademark in place for unavoidable reasons; you can’t start the business on time.
Perhaps you probably shared your trademark with someone without letting them sign a non-disclosure agreement. You don’t need to worry because the patent and trademark office understands your concerns.
If you’re not ready to fill the SOU, you may be required to file a request for an extension of time to file an SOU within six months, effective from the day the Notice of Allowance was issued to you. The best thing about filing for a Request for Extension of Time is that it can be renewed every six months for 36 months, giving you enough time to prepare yourself.
Five Things You Should Know Before Filing The Trademark Statement Of Use
Here are five things you should know before filing the SOU:
1. Ensure Your Trademark Is Available For Use
Before you consider filing the statement of use, make sure it’s available. Being available for use means that no one has exclusive rights to it and that you’re the only one planning to use it on your products. You can quickly search on the US Patent and Trademark Office website to verify if anyone has registered the trademark you intend to use.
2. Know Your Rights
Hiring different graphic designers to help you develop the best symbols or phrases that communicate your business identity is commendable. You may have to go through all the material presented and consult different people to help you pick the right design.
The process can be tedious, costly, and even expose your designs to different people with hidden intentions. For these reasons, you may need a trademark lawyer to help you navigate the process. A trademark lawyer will help you with the process.
You don’t have to go through the legal process of making calls and inquiries about your trademark to the relevant departments. Apart from handling all the SOU aspects, a trademark lawyer will help you understand your rights and deal with any matter that may arise in the future concerning your trademark.
3. Start Using Your Trademark
The best thing is that if you’re ready and your business is running, you’re free to use your trademark on your products without filling in the SOU. Once you’ve registered the trademark, you’re free to use it. The registration gives you protection under the trademark law.
Under such circumstances, your lawyer can defend you in court should there be a genuine legal reason preventing you from using it. The patent and trademark office will only allow you to fill the SOU if you provide proof of using the trademark on your goods and services.
4. Register Your Domain Name
You’ve probably seen influential personalities in politics and media with funny user names on their Twitter handles or Instagram. That may have made you wonder what happened and why don’t they claim usernames that match their real names.
Once your trademark name or phrase is out there, some people may rush to use it to create a domain name and even file for an SOU before you do. Legally, if they register using the trademark, there’s nothing you can do to stop them.
Such people may take it as an opportunity to demand ridiculous amounts of money to sell you the domain. Therefore, before you fill the SOU, ensure that you’ve registered your trademark and own your desired domain name before exposing it to the world.
5. Bookmark The Internet Corporation For Assigned Names
Lastly, don’t forget to register with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The organization adjudicates and resolves domain name disputes that arise from time to time between individuals. Therefore, it’s essential to register with the organization to be on the safe side should an issue emerge in the future.
Owning a trademark for your business is probably one of the most satisfying things for anyone. However, you’ll only own a trademark legally after filing the SOU. However, you must own an active business enterprise for that to happen. If you’re not ready to start operations, you’re allowed to register for a reservation with the intent to use, which you can renew for three years. Therefore, before you file for the SOU, consult a trademark lawyer, start using the trademark, ensure it’s available, register for a domain, and secure the domain with ICANN.
You may also like: A Guide to Patents, Copyrights, Trademarks and Trade Secrets
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