What is a Trademark?


A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.

A service mark is the same as a trademark, except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product.

A U.S. Trademark Application is filed at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in order to obtain a federally registered trademark.



Types of Trademark Applications



Actual Use


An Actual Use trademark application is filed if the applicant is currently using the mark in commerce with all the goods and/or services listed in the application.  

For the purpose of obtaining federal registration, "commerce" means all commerce that the U.S. Congress may lawfully regulate; for example, interstate commerce or commerce between the U.S. and another country.

"Use in commerce" must be a bonafide use of the mark in the ordinary course of trade, and not use simply made to reserve rights in the mark. Generally, acceptable use is as follows:

  1. For goods: the mark must appear on the goods, the container for the goods, or displays associated with the goods, and the goods must be sold or transported in commerce

  2. For services: the mark must be used or displayed in the sale or advertising of the services, and the services must be rendered in commerce.

Additionally, the application should include a specimen showing use of the mark in commerce.



Intent To Use


The Intent to Use application allows for the filing of a trademark application even if the applicant has not yet used the mark.  It is only required that the applicant has a bona fide or good faith intention to use the mark in commerce in the future. An Intent to Use trademark application is filed if the applicant has a bona fide intention to use the mark in commerce on or in connection with all the listed goods and/or services.

An "intent to use" application must include a sworn statement (usually in the form of a declaration) that you have a genuine intention to use the mark in commerce. A properly worded declaration is included in the United States Patent and Trademark Office standard application form. The applicant or a person authorized to sign on behalf of the applicant must sign the statement.

If an "Intent to Use" application is filed, the applicant must begin actual use of the mark in commerce before the USPTO will register the mark; that is, after filing an application based on "intent to use," the applicant must later file another form ("Allegation of Use") to establish that use has begun.