Saturday, October 21, 2006

A Veritable Voluminous Vat of Varying Varieties of Vagueness
aka The USPTO Glossary

The USPTO offers a great service to the public by having the glossary available for viewing. However, some of the language makes you want to say 'huh? what was that?'

So, let's take a look at some of the important words/terms that every person wanting a trademark should know.

First & foremost -- trademark. What is it? Do I need it? Why do I need it? The word trademark can have entire posts written about it; luckily, I've got several for you to check out:

What is a Trademark?
What is a Trademark Search?
Do You Need a Registered Trademark?

Okay, let's move on to some of the trickier definitions.

When an application is filed with the USPTO, there are four different filing bases: use of the mark in commerce, intent-to-use, pending foreign application & foreign registration. Having a pending foreign application or registration is a whole different ball of wax & probably won't apply to most folks reading this so let's stick with the first two.

* Use-based application: You can read the USPTO's definition here. Basically, this basis is chosen if the name, logo or slogan has been used in connection with the goods/services across state lines or between the US & any other country. Let's use some examples:

You live in Florida & you have a clothing line with a name & a logo. You've sold some pieces through your on-line web site to customers in Florida, New York and the Bahamas. Your mark is in use in commerce.

Your financial consulting company is based in Mesa, AZ and you have a small roster of clients, all of whom reside in Arizona. Your mark is not in use in commerce. Your mark, however, is in use for the state of Arizona.

* Intent-to-use application: After scrolling a bit, you can read the USPTO's definition here. Essentially, if you're only doing business in 1 state or not at all, you'll be filing as an intent-to-use. Here's a couple of examples:

You plan on starting an on-line retail site selling home decor items. You've got your DBA, the domain name secured & some business cards printed up; however, you have not yet made a sale. Your mark is an intent-to-use.

You live in California & you have a greeting card company. All of your cards are handmade and all carry your name & logo on the back. You've sold at holiday trade shows all across the country. Your mark is in use in commerce.

Now the intent-to-use filing has a bit of a hiccup in the trademark process. The USPTO will not actually grant registration of a mark until it is in use in commerce. Basically, this requires some money & the filing of another form to the USPTO.

Are there any terms or words that you've run across that I could explain for you? Let me know by way of commenting & I'll write up a post for you.

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