Potential clients frequently ask me if they can trademark a phrase. Well, whether you can register a phrase with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) essentially depends on (1) the nature of the phrase itself, and (2) the manner in which the phrase is used. If the phrase doesn’t indicate the source of your products/services, or doesn’t identify and distinguish your products/services from those offered by your competitors, then it cannot be protected as a trademark. In other words, you cannot trademark a phrase unless it serves a branding purpose (i.e. it functions as a slogan or tagline). If the USPTO determines that your phase fails to function as a trademark, it will send you a trademark office action explaining why your phrase is being refused registration.
I like to think of a free trademark check as the very first step in the trademark search and clearance process. It provides some basic information that helps determine whether it makes sense to take the next step and conduct a comprehensive federal trademark search to potentially find conflicts, issues, and other problems that could negatively affect the cost, time frame, and ability to successfully register your trademark. Without question, everyone should at least do a quick trademark check before adopting, using, and applying to register a name, phrase, or slogan. I also firmly believe that everyone should do one prior to hiring a trademark attorney. This is because you don’t want to pay a few hundred dollars in legal fees just for your attorney to find an obvious conflict in two minutes that you would have easily found had you first performed a trademark check yourself.
I’m experienced trademark attorney Morris Turek. You probably stumbled across my website while searching for a Kansas City trademark attorney to assist you with a particular trademark matter. My trademark law firm is actually located straight down I-70 in the Gateway City of St. Louis, Missouri, but I help people just like you everyday regardless of whether they live five miles or 10,000 miles away from my office. In fact, since 2005, I’ve been blessed to serve thousands of amazing people located all throughout the United States and on almost every continent. That includes amazing people who live in the great “City of Fountains” and “BBQ Capital of the World,” as Kansas City is often referred.
The Section 44(e) trademark filing basis allows the owner of a foreign trademark registration to base its U.S. trademark application on the foreign registration. As a practical matter, Section 44(e) applies only to a relatively small number of trademark applications filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The vast majority of trademark applications are filed under Section 1(a) (use in commerce) or Section 1(b) (intent to use). In addition, some trademark applications can be filed under Section 44(d), which allows the owner of a foreign trademark application to use its application to obtain a priority trademark filing date in the United States. This article explains the benefits of Section 44(e) and the requirements for utilizing this valuable tool.
The Section 44(d) trademark filing basis is applicable to certain trademark applications filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Most of the time, trademark applications are filed under with Section 1(a) (use in commerce) or Section 1(b) (intent to use). However, Section 44(d) allows the owner of a foreign trademark application to rely on its foreign application to secure a priority filing date in the United States. What does this mean? Well, it means that the owner’s USPTO trademark application filing date will be considered to be the date on which the foreign trademark application was filed.