When applying for a trademark, you will be asked on the application to describe the goods and/or services associated with the mark for which you are applying. While this may seem like a straightforward procedure, many business owners don’t fully think through the way their company operates and may omit elements or overly simplify the description.
Trademarks Vs. Service Marks
In consideration of the general description of the goods and services mentioned above, there are two different types of marks that you may be granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, depending on how your company operates in commerce. They are as follows:
- Trademarks are used to identify a source of goods.
- Service Marks are used to identify a type of service.
Many companies offer a mix of goods and services in the marketplace and would likely need to apply for both a trademark and a service mark to fully protect their business and/or brand. This can be done in a single application with multiple classes.
Take the company Starbucks for example. Their green and white nautical character logo is used as a Service Mark when you visit their coffee shops and consume the beverages that are made for you. However, Starbucks also sells goods to the public, such as snacks that bear their logo and the actual coffee and teas that you consume, so in this instance, their logo would serve as a trademark.
Be Careful When Documenting the Goods and Services Your Business Offers
When applying for your trademark or service mark, you must be sure to accurately list the goods and services that your company offers. If you fail to correctly list the goods and services for which you will be using or intend to use you trademark in connection with, your application may be denied.
It can be helpful to sit down with a piece of paper and list out all of the ways your company operates in commerce or serves the public. Do you sell a specific item? Do you perform a specific service? Are there ways in which you are performing both a good and a service for your customers? Then review if you are using your trademark in connection with those goods or services as you will have to illustrate that to the USPTO.
Next, take a look at the USPTO’s Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual (ID Manual) at https://tmidm.uspto.gov/, which will provide you with a listing of acceptable identifications of goods and services. You’ll need to determine which entry accurately reflects the goods or services you are offering, or if it’s not listed, you will need to submit your own identification. Don’t merely choose something that seems “close.” Your entry must offer an accurate identification of your product or services or you risk of your application being deemed as void, and you will not be issued a refund for any fees paid. If none of the preformed descriptions in the ID Manual accurately describe your goods or services, you may need to file a TEAS RF application for an additional $50 per class of goods or services.
You Won’t Be Able to Change Your Responses Down the Road
One of the most important reasons why you must list your goods are services accurately on your application the first time around is that you will not be able to expand or broaden the scope of your goods or services later. For example, if you have a company that sells “t-shirts” and “pants,” you won’t be able to expand your application to include “shoes” or “jewelry” down the road. Nor could you change the nature of your filing from goods to a service to possibly include “fashion consultations” that you may also offer to your customers.
When in Doubt, Talk to a Trademark Attorney
If you are unsure of how to classify the goods or services offered by your company or you would like help applying for your marks to ensure that they properly protect your business and are approved in the fastest and most cost-effective way possible, then contact our trademark and service mark attorneys at 888-666-0062. Simply mention this blog to schedule a consultation with our attorneys at no charge.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.
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