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What you need to know about trademark registration

When you start a new business to sell goods or services, how are you going to market those goods? Do you need a trademark or service mark? You do if you want your products or services to be distinguished from others and recognized by clients.

If your business involves products or goods, you need a trademark. If it involves services you will be providing, you need a service mark. You can make your trademark or service mark whatever you want as long as it is not already in use by another individual or entity. It can be a picture, a logo, a symbol or letters.

When you submit your trademark or service mark to be registered in California, you must provide a drawing page. That is an 8 1/2" X 11" sheet of paper with a visual representation of the mark. It cannot be a photocopy but must be an original. It can hand-drawn or written, or computer-generated.

When submitting your application to register your trademark or service mark, you must submit a specimen to show how the mark will be used either on goods, commerce or services. Three identical original specimens (items) are required; an example would be a product (three identical ones) that are using, or will be using, your trademark.

If your trademark or service mark includes a design element that is included in the Design Search Code Manual, you need to include the six-digit numeric code to help distinguish your mark. If you do not include one, the California Secretary of State will include one or more when your application is reviewed.

Your mark will also need a classification code(s) assigned. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website includes a list of goods and services and their classification codes. These are used to identify what type of goods or services the mark is to be used for.

Trademark laws allow an attorney to register your trademark or service mark for you. Their signature will be accepted as long as they provide a copy of an agreement signed by you with the application. An attorney can help you identify the proper codes and classifications streamlining the registration process.

Source: Alex Padilla Secretary of State, "Trademarks & Service Marks (TM/SM)," accessed Dec. 21, 2017

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