How to Obtain a US Trademark

 The Trademark Search

Obtaining a federal trademark registration will provide important legal protection for your business. However, should you desire to use a mark, with or without federal registration, a professional trademark search is recommended to determine whether your mark is eligible for adoption, use and federal registration. A trademark search could also alert you to whether your use of the mark would infringe upon another party's trademark rights. It will help you find out whether your mark is available and whether or not you can claim exclusive rights for it.

If your mark contains both words and design, it's wise to conduct searches for both. For word marks, a search should include federal registrations and applications as well as state registrations and common law marks nationwide. A design search should include federal and state records.

Same Search Resources as US Trademark Examining Attorneys

We use the same Federal Search resources as the Trademark Examining Attorneys who review federal trademark applications. Our trademark search of the U.S. Trademark Office records can pick up relevant marks not available in an online search. Why? The search considers the same database as the Federal Government, containing over 3.2 million registered marks and over 940,000 figurative elements. These records cover the widest possible span of time, from the oldest active mark (May 27, 1884) to marks currently in the process of registration.

Applying for Federal Registration

After the search indicates that a mark can be registered, you should apply for federal registration as soon as possible. You have two options. You can file a "use-based" application if the mark is currently in use in interstate commerce. Alternately, you can file an "intent-to-use" application if you have not yet used the mark, but intend to do so and wish to reserve it for use in the future.

An "intent-to-use" application to obtain trademark protection establishes nationwide priority for a mark from the filing date of the application. To receive a Certificate of Registration, you must demonstrate actual use of the mark to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Federal registration rights can last as long as the mark is being used.


To receive information on trademarks or if you have any questions, contact us via our secure Contact Form. If you would like us to conduct a Trademark Search for you, please submit your request via our secure Trademark Search Request Form.