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Trademark Filing Basics – Part 5: Signature and What happens after filing

trademark filing signatureSignature
Authorised signatories

A person who is properly authorized to sign a verification on behalf of the applicant is:

  • a person with legal authority to bind the applicant; or
  • a person with firsthand knowledge of the facts and actual or implied authority to act on behalf of the applicant; or
  • an attorney as who has an actual written or verbal power of attorney or an implied power of attorney from the applicant.

Signing a TEAS application
In a TEAS application, you do not apply a conventional signature. Instead, you enter a “symbol” that you have adopted as a signature. The USPTO will accept any combination of letters, numbers, spaces and/or punctuation marks placed between two forward slash (“/”) symbols. Examples of acceptable signatures for TEAS applications include /john doe/, /drl/, and /544-4925/.

After filing a trademark application

  • Legal and Procedural review of the application
  • Search for conflicting marks
  • Publication for Opposition


Legal and Procedural review of the application

After the USPTO determines that you have met the minimum filing requirements, the application is forwarded to an examining attorney. This may take a number of months. The examining attorney reviews the application to determine whether it complies with all applicable rules and statutes and includes all required fees.

A complete examination includes a search for conflicting marks, and an examination of the written application, the drawing, and any specimen.

If the examining attorney decides that a mark should not be registered, the examining attorney will issue a letter (Office action) explaining any substantive reasons for refusal, and any technical or procedural deficiencies in the application. If only minor corrections are required, the examining attorney may contact the applicant by telephone or e-mail (if the applicant has authorized communication by e-mail).

If the examining attorney sends an Office action, the applicant’s response to the Office action must be received in the Office within six months of the mailing date of the Office action, or the application will be declared abandoned.

If the applicant’s response does not overcome all objections, the examining attorney will issue a final refusal. To attempt to overcome a final refusal, the applicant may, for an additional fee, appeal to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, an administrative tribunal within the USPTO.

Search for conflicting marks

After an application is filed, the assigned examining attorney will search the USPTO records to determine if a conflict, i.e., a likelihood of confusion, exists between the mark in the application and another mark that is registered or pending in the USPTO.

The USPTO will not provide any preliminary search for conflicting marks before an applicant files an application.

The principal factors considered by the examining attorney in determining whether there would be a likelihood of confusion are:

  • the similarity of the marks; and
  • the commercial relationship between the goods and/or services listed in the application.

To find a conflict, the marks do not have to be identical, and the goods and/or services do not have to be the same. It may be enough that the marks are similar and the goods and/ or services related.

If a conflict exists between your mark and a registered mark, the examining attorney will refuse registration on the ground of likelihood of confusion. If a conflict exists between your mark and a mark in a pending application that was filed before your application, the examining attorney will notify you of the potential conflict. If the earlier-filed application registers, the Examining Attorney will refuse registration of your mark on the ground of likelihood of confusion.

Search before filing

You should search the USPTO records before filing your application to determine if any party is already claiming rights in a particular mark. You may conduct a search on-line at http://tess2.uspto.gov/ or by visiting the USPTO Public Search Facility – Madison East, 1 st Floor, 600 Dulany Street, Alexandria, Virginia.  The library is open between 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Both on-line searching and use of the Public Search Facility are free.
Additionally, registered and pending trademarks may be searched at a Patent and Trademark Depository Library (PTDL). PTDLs are located throughout the U.S. See PTDL for a listing of their locations, or http://www.uspto.gov/products/ library/ptdl/locations/index.jsp.
Private trademark search firms will conduct a search for a fee. A listing of search firms can be found in the Yellow Pages of local phone directories or through an Internet search. The USPTO does not assist you in selecting a search firm.

We recommend Trademark Express (affiliate link) or comprehensive trademark search services

You can check the status of any pending application or registration through the Trademark Application and Registration Retrieval (TARR) database, available on-line at http://tarr.uspto.gov. If you do not have access to the Internet, you can call the Trademark Assistance Center at 1­800-786-9199, to request a status check.

Other reasons the examining attorney might refuse my mark

In addition to likelihood of confusion (discussed above), an examining attorney will refuse registration if the mark is:

  • primarily merely descriptive or deceptively mis-descriptive of the goods/service
  • primarily geographically descriptive or primarily geographically deceptively; misdescriptive of the goods/ services;
  • primarily merely a surname; or
  • ornamental.

This is not a complete list of all possible grounds of refusal. See Chapter 1200 of the Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure (TMEP), available at http://tess2.uspto.gov/tmdb/ tmep/, for a complete discussion of the grounds for refusal of registration of a mark.

Publication for Opposition

If the examining attorney raises no objections to registration, or if the applicant overcomes all objections, the examining attorney will approve the mark for publication in the Official Gazette, a weekly publication of the USPTO.

The USPTO will send a Notice of Publicaton to the applicant stating the date of publication. Any party who believes it may be damaged by registration of the mark has thirty (30) days from the publication date to file either an opposition to registration or a request to extend the time to oppose. An opposition is similar to a proceeding in a federal court, but is held before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, a USPTO administrative tribunal.

If no opposition is filed or if the opposition is unsuccessful, the application enters the next stage of the registration process.

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