The Trademark Application Process

I know it has been a while. Things have been a little hectic here at Hurchalla Law, and as such I have neglected my blog. Well, I’m back! And recently, I’ve had A LOT of inquiries about trademarks. So I’d like to veer a little bit away from patents for now, and dip our toes into the world of trademarks.

I don’t want to talk about what a trademark is – I’ve discussed that here. Instead, I want to tell you a little bit about the trademark process and what to expect along the way.

Compared to obtaining a patent, the trademark process is usually easier. Once you’ve decided on your mark, thorough research is done by your attorney to determine if the mark is already in use. If your mark is not in use by someone else, or is determined to not be substantially similar to a mark already in use, an application can begin.

There are two different types of trademark applications, one for marks already being used and one for marks that wish to be used, but have not yet been used (this is called an intent-to-use application). The intent-to-use application is much more involved, lengthy and expensive. This is to prevent people from snatching up catchy names and sitting on them to eventually sell them to someone who wants to actually use it for their business. An intent-to-use application is considered pending until the mark is actually used in commerce and then is converted to an in-use application before it can actually proceed with the registration process. Additionally, an intent-to-use application must be renewed every six months, along with a fee and a statement as to why the mark has not yet been used in commerce. Even after filing your fee and statement, the USPTO may deem that your excuse for not using the mark is unacceptable and refuse to keep your application alive.

So, what does use in commerce actually mean? To the USPTO, this means you are using the mark to advertise/market/identify your goods or services across state lines. This can include product packaging and labeling, brochures, and websites (just to name a few). As part of the application process, for a mark already in use, the USPTO requires that you submit a specimen. A specimen is an example of your mark being used in commerce.

Once your application is submitted, it typically sits in the USPTO office three to four months before being examined. Like a patent, the trademark examiner may reject your application for many reasons – the most common including: it is deemed offensive, deceptive, disparaging or false, OR because the mark is likely to be confused with a mark already registered. If your application is rejected for one of these reasons, your attorney will be given an opportunity to argue why the mark should continue to registration.

If there is no objection from the trademark examiner, however, your mark will move to publication. The mark will publish in the Official Gazette, where people will have a 30-day window in which to object to the mark registering. If no objection is made within that window, the mark will continue to registration – which typically takes 6 to 8 weeks after the publication window has closed. Overall the average time from the submission of your trademark application to your trademark registration is about 6 months to a year.

Did you know? You can obtain a state trademark if your service or goods have not yet crossed state lines!

Do you have a mark for your business, services, or goods that you think needs protection? Call me today to find out and get started with the application process! Hurchalla Law offers flat fees on all trademark applications and stages in trademark prosecution. Until next time, be kind and promote progress!

An Introduction to Intellectual Property

I don’t know about you, but I’m not great with understanding abstract concepts. I need something tangible to grasp on to. Well, that’s the aim of intellectual property law. Intellectual property law is designed to protect abstract things like ideas, expressions, and the like by making sure they are in a tangible form.

Still a little complicated right? Let me break it down for you. One of my first intellectual property professors gave my class this hypothetical, which put intellectual property and its protection into a means I could understand, and I hope it does the same for you.

Now just follow me for a minute and it will all come together. Let’s say you have a plot of land and on this land you want to grow something. In my hypothetical we plant an orange grove (Hey! We are in Florida, after all!). Well, from the trees we get oranges. But this land is open and not protected. Anybody can come onto my land and steal the oranges, the trees, or even the nutrient dense dirt used to grow my trees. So how should we protect it? Well there are several options, some offer better protection than others, while others are less expensive but may not afford our land as much protection. The first thing I think of is, let’s put up a fence. Well, that could get expensive. We want a tall fence that won’t have any holes or gaps in it. Something strong enough to keep people out for a good long time. This is a lot of protection and may have a price tag. Another option would be to hire a rent-a-cop. Maybe not as expensive, but people could slip through the gaps as he’s making his rounds. I’ll discuss both of these protection scenarios in a later post, so remember these!

So how does this tie into Intellectual Property, you ask. Well, think of the land as your idea, and from your idea you get something tangible to trade in commerce – your oranges or your trees. Intellectual Property Law is the fence that you put up around your idea to keep it safe. Intellectual Property aims to protect your idea by keeping others from being able to use it without your consent. Intellectual Property Law requires a tangible form of your idea (the oranges) to protect and not just the idea itself (the land). Intellectual property protects your idea by protecting the tangible form of your idea.

I hope this gives you clarity on what exactly intellectual property law is and how to better understand the basic policy behind it. Next, we will dive into the different areas of intellectual property. Until then – be kind and promote progress, don’t stifle it!

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my blog! Here I’ll walk you through all aspects of Intellectual Property law and how it applies to your situation. But first! A little bit about myself and my firm. My name is Megan, and ten years ago, if you had told me I’d not only end up as an attorney but I’d also own my own firm I’d have you Baker Acted (a little legal humor, lol) – or tell you that you were crazy.

My dream as a child was to become a doctor, so I went to a small liberal arts college in Western Maryland, McDaniel College. This school has a higher rate of students into John’s Hopkins Medical Program than John’s Hopkins own undergrads! Perfect! Well, all my life I had wanted this – I put the blinders on and just went for it. When I graduated from undergrad and the reality of medical school was upon me, I realized that maybe that wasn’t what I wanted at all. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.

So what happens when you realize you have no idea what you want to do? You cling to the one thing you WANT to do – and I wanted to move to Florida. So, I packed my things, moved, and have never looked back. Living in my area of Florida is like being on vacation every day. We are close to the beach and the bay. It’s always sunny and warm, and there are palm trees everywhere! I never get tired of admiring the palm trees.

But now I’m in Florida, so then what? I landed a job in a small pharmaceutical company heading up their microbiology department. I slowly worked my way into quality control and research and development, as well. It was there that I realized my passion for creating things and learning how to protect what we were creating. I was also putting in extremely long hours and not necessarily loving what I was doing. Luckily for me, there is a law school in my town – Stetson University College of Law. I thought “What the heck? I’ll apply, see what happens.”

I decided when I applied to Stetson that would be the only school I applied to. If I didn’t get in then law school wasn’t meant to be, but I did get in! And I was able to pursue my passion for helping creative people protect what’s rightfully theirs even though it may be abstract – Intellectual Property. I took every intellectual property class Stetson had to offer and sat for the Patent bar exam to be registered to practice patent law before the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office).

When I graduated and passed the bar (on the first try, YAY!), I realized that no one in my area practiced the type of law I wanted to practice – Intellectual Property with a focus on medical and pharmaceutical applications.  I didn’t want to settle and end up in the same position I was in while I was working for the pharmaceutical company – doing something I enjoyed but not necessarily passionate about to justify the long hours. So, I decided that I’d start my own firm, and Hurchalla Law was born! While I prefer to focus on medical and pharmaceutical applications, I don’t hesitate to take on any intellectual property matter a client has – so if you’re seeking help in another field, I can still help!

But first you’re probably wondering, well ok – we’ve heard enough about you; what is intellectual property already, and why should I care? Well, I’m going to have to leave you in suspense for the moment, as that is a different post for a different day. I hope you have enjoyed getting to know me, and I look forward to getting to know you, dear reader. Until next time, be kind and promote progress, don’t stifle it!