Trademarks
Frequently Asked Questions

What is a trademark?


A trademark can be any word, phrase, symbol, design, or a combinatio of these things that identfies your goods or services. It's how customers recognize you in the marketplace and distinguish you from your competitors.




How much does a trademark application cost?


There are various fees involved in a trademark application. For the simplest of marks and applications, DPL's professional fees are $500 per mark, per class, and government fees are typically $350 (but could be as low as $250). Therefore, for a basic mark, it typically is $850 to file. However, this does not include possibly responding to refusals, and maintenance fees once your trademark issues.




What kind of rights do I get with a registered trademark?


If you have a federally registered trademark, you have the exclusive rights to stop others from using this mark on similar goods or services without your permission across all of the United States. If someone uses the mark without your permission on similar goods or services you can sue for trademark infringement.




Do I own the word that I trademark?


This is a common misconception. Even if you have a registered trademark, you do not "own" the word in all of its uses. You have exclusive rights to the word/phrase/design only for the goods and services where you are using the mark. For example, Apple Computer cannot stop someone from using the word "Apple" on any kind of product. Grocery stores are still allowed to label their apple produce with the word "Apple." Apple Computer has registered in mark for particular goods and services, particularly in the computer industry, so someone else can't come along and just name their new brand of computer "Apple."




What are strong and weak trademarks?


There are five categories of marks and are listed in order of strongest to weakest: fanciful, arbitrary, suggestive, descriptive, and generic. Fanciful marks are marks that have no meaning. Examples are "Xerox" or "Kinkos." Arbitrary marks are marks have have a meaning, but that meaning is not associated with that particular good or services. Examples are "Apple" (for computers) and "Blue Bell" for ice cream. Suggestive marks suggest a quality or connection but do not describe them. For example, "Penguin" for refrigerators suggests something cold, but does not actually describe the refrigerator. Descriptive marks describe goods or services. An example is if there was a printer repair company called "Printer Repair Services." Generic marks marks cannot qualify for any trademark protection because the term now has been identified by the public. Generic marks were once used to identify a particular brand, but no longer do. Examples include Aspirin, Escalator, Flip Phone, and Trampoline. If you want federal trademark protection, you want your mark to at least be suggestive (if not arbitrary or fanciful) and not to be considered descriptive or generic. While descriptive marks can get some protection, and that protection may increase over time, there are more additional rights if your mark is at least suggestive of your goods or services.