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Registering trademarks and service marks in California - II

In the last post, we discussed how individuals or corporate entities must understand that they can protect their intellectual property at both the federal and state level. By way of illustration, we began discussing how those seeking to protect their trademarks or service marks here in California can register either with the Secretary of State’s office.

Having established how state law defines these two forms of intellectual property, today's post will take a closer look at what those looking to register either mark must submit and other important information.

As part of the process of registering a trademark or service mark with the state, a filer will be required to submit what is known as a specimen, which is essentially a demonstration of how the mark is being exhibited to the general public.

As to what is required for the specimen, it depends upon the type of mark for which registration is being sought:

  • Trademark: The specimen can take the form of labels, tags or even a photograph of the trademark on the product.
  • Service mark: The specimen can take the form of an advertisement demonstrating the obvious nature of the services being provided, including a business card, flyer, phone book advertisement or even a photograph of a billboard.

Before permitting registration, the Secretary of State’s office will examine these specimens to ensure that 1) the mark is indeed being used in commerce, and 2) the words/phrasing fit the necessary criteria for a trademark or service mark.

Prospective filers should know that the product or service in question must be released into the marketplace before they can secure registration of a mark.

Other important information that prospective filers should know includes:

  • The initial registration for a trademark or service mark is active for five years, and may be subsequently renewed every five years provided it is in continual use.
  • While registration at the state level provides considerable protection, it does not guarantee exclusive ownership of a particular mark.
  • If a mark is registered at the federal level, there is no requirement that it must be registered at the state level; however, doing so provides additional and considerable protection.

To learn more about trademark registration or trademark enforcement, consider speaking with a skilled professional who can explain the law, answer your questions and pursue the necessary solutions.  

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