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Maryland Trademark Lawyers DC Trademark Lawyers


Registering a trademark with the USPTO is essential for businesses to protect their brand and prevent others from using similar marks. Hiring an experienced Maryland trademark attorney is important to navigate the complex registration process and maximize the chances of a successful registration. By registering a trademark, businesses can establish their brand's identity and gain exclusive rights to use their mark in connection with their goods or services.

Maryland DC Trademark Attorneys

We can assist you in ensuring your brand is fully protected as you work to build your business and can help you aggressively enforce your rights. Feel free to choose either of the major topics below or scroll ahead for further discussion below.

Maryland DC

Trademark Lawyers

Why Register a Trademark
or Service Mark?

The Purpose of Filing a Trademark


The purpose of a trademark is to protect the unique identity of a brand, distinguishing it from others in the marketplace. It helps consumers identify and differentiate the source of goods or services. Marks used for services are called service marks. 

Trademarks can be in the form of names, logos, slogans, or a combination of these elements. Collective marks, used by members of an organization or association to identify their goods or services, can be registered if the organization can manage and control the use of the mark. Certification marks, which show that goods or services meet certain standards or qualities, can be registered if the certifying organization can establish control over the mark's use. Trade dress, or the overall appearance and image of a product or service, can be registered if it is distinctive and not functional. Taglines and slogans, which are statements about a brand, may be registered as well.

By registering a trademark, a business can gain exclusive rights to use it and prevent others from using a similar mark that may cause confusion among consumers. Trademarks build trust and reputation over time, as consumers associate certain qualities and experiences with a brand. They also promote fair competition by preventing others from benefiting from the goodwill created by a brand. A competent Maryland trademark lawyer can help you determine whether a trademark is right for you.


Brand Identity


Registering a trademark with the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) is crucial for businesses to protect their brand identity and prevent unauthorized use of their intellectual property or intellectual property which is substantially similar.


Brand identity refers to the visible elements of a brand, like the brand name, logo, tagline, color palette, typography, and overall visual and verbal communication style that identify and distinguish the brand in consumers' minds in addition to the distinct and unique set of attributes, values, and characteristics that a company or organization uses to differentiate itself and create a perception in the minds of its target audience. Consistent marketing and messaging lead to consistent brand identity and, therefore, consistent sales.

Building Brand Identity

Building brand identity establishes a strong and memorable brand image that resonates with consumers and differentiates a company from its competitors. It serves as a strategic tool to build trust, credibility, and loyalty among customers. Well-defined brand identity helps in creating a consistent and cohesive brand experience across all consumer touchpoints, be it advertising, packaging, web design, or social media platforms.


Brand identity plays a crucial role in shaping consumer perceptions and influencing their purchasing decisions. It helps consumers form an emotional connection with the brand, making them more likely to choose it over others. Strong branding is proven to cause consistently favorable consumer decisions by forming associations in consumer minds between the brand and positive experiences or coveted concepts, such as luxury, quality, reliability, and or affordability. Additionally, a well-established brand identity instills confidence in stakeholders, including employees, investors, and partners, by conveying a sense of professionalism and reliability.


In conclusion, brand identity is not just about visual elements. It is a holistic representation of a company's values, personality, and promises. It serves as a powerful tool to create a unique and recognizable brand that resonates with consumers, builds trust, and drives loyalty in an increasingly competitive marketplace.


By cohesively weaving a narrative through the components of brand identity, e.g. the visual, verbal, and emotional elements of the brand, a company can distinguish its own brand from that of competitors. Brand identity encompasses the brand's name, logo, colors, typography, and messaging style. The voice of the brand, as perceived by consumers, is the embodiment of the brand’s identity.


The purpose of brand identity is to create a strong, memorable, and cohesive image for a brand, ensuring instant recognition and fostering a connection with consumers. Furthermore, brand identity holds significant importance in marketing and business as it helps differentiate a brand from its competitors in a crowded market. In fact, a well-defined brand identity ensures consistency in brand messaging and enhances brand recall. Customers are more likely to choose a brand they can easily identify and relate to.


Brand identity contributes to brand equity, which is the value and perception associated with a brand. A strong brand identity can command higher prices, generate customer loyalty, and create brand advocates. It also enables brand extensions and diversification into new markets, as consumers are more likely to trust a brand they are familiar with.


Strong brand identity also improves communication. The way a business communicates its brand identity is a critical component of its ability to effectively influence consumers. Consistency in brand elements across various touchpoints, including packaging, advertising, websites, and social media, helps create a unified brand experience. This coherence strengthens brand recognition and recall, improving the overall effectiveness of marketing campaigns.


In conclusion, brand identity is essential in marketing and business as it differentiates a brand, conveys its values, builds trust, enhances brand equity, and enables effective marketing communication. An experienced Maryland trademark lawyer can help you improve your brand protections.


Benefits of Trademark Registration

Trademark registration is a vital step for businesses and offers various benefits to both businesses and consumers alike. A competent Maryland trademark attorney can help you successfully apply for trademark registration.


Here are some reasons why trademark registration is important:


Protection of Intellectual Property: Registering a trademark provides legal protection to the unique and distinctive elements of a brand. It helps businesses safeguard their intellectual property from infringement and prevents others from using similar marks that can create confusion in the marketplace. By securing exclusive rights, businesses can protect their brand's reputation, identity, and market share.


Brand Recognition and Consumer Trust: A registered trademark acts as a symbol of authenticity and quality. Consumers often rely on trademarks to make informed purchasing decisions and identify products or services associated with a particular brand. Trademark registration helps build trust and credibility among consumers, as they can trust that products or services bearing a registered mark meet certain standards and are backed by the reputation of the brand.


Market Differentiation and Competitive Advantage: Trademarks play a crucial role in distinguishing one brand from another. A registered trademark allows businesses to confidently invest into establishing a unique brand identity to stand out from competitors. It enables them to create a strong presence in the market, build customer loyalty, and gain a competitive edge. Trademark registration also prevents competitors from using similar marks that can dilute the distinctiveness of a brand.


Expansion and Licensing Opportunities: Trademark registration provides businesses with the exclusive right to use their mark in connection with specific goods or services. This exclusivity opens up opportunities for expansion into new markets and licensing agreements. By licensing their trademark to other businesses, trademark owners can generate additional revenue streams and expand their brand's reach without compromising their brand's integrity, in addition to saving money on marketing.


Legal Remedies and Enforcement: Registering a trademark strengthens a business's legal position in case of infringement or unauthorized use of their mark. Registered trademark owners may use legal mechanisms such as cease and desist letters to force infringers to cease infringing activity, as well as to reimburse the trademark owner for lost profits and licensing fees 


Registration with the USPTO provides statutory rights and remedies, making it easier to take legal action against infringers and protect the brand's interests. Trademark registration also acts as a deterrent, as potential infringers are less likely to take risks with registered marks due to being put on notice by the USPTO. A competent trademark lawyer can help you establish and enforce your trademark rights.

Maryland DC
Trademark Attorneys

Registering Trademarks
and Service Marks

Registering a Trade or Service Mark


The process of registering a trademark involves several steps and requirements that are administered by the USPTO, which also provides a register of all registered marks as well as those still in process.


-           Step 1: Determine Whether A Trademark Application Right For You


-           Step 2: Prepare And Submit Your Application


-           Step 3: Work With The Assigned USPTO Examining Attorney


-           Step 4: Resolve Any Requests From The USPTO


-           Step 5: Receive Approval/Denial Of Your Application


-           Step 6: Maintain Your Registration



Getting Started With Your Trademark Application


The first step in the trademark registration process is to determine whether a trademark application is the right course of action for a business. This involves considering the benefits and costs associated with trademark registration, as well as eligibility for trademark protection.


The application process includes preparing specimens, documents, and information required to prove eligibility, including a clear description of the trademark and its intended use. All trademark applications and related filings become public record once submitted to the USPTO. It is wise to hire an experienced trademark attorney to help you determine how to get the most out of trademark protection.


Conducting A Trademark Search


Before submitting a trademark application, it is crucial to conduct a thorough search for any existing trademarks that may be confusingly similar to yours. This helps avoid potential conflicts and rejections during the registration process.


Searches may be conducted through the USPTO as well as publications, search engines, stores, ads, and other brand identity outlets. Once it is determined that a trademark application is appropriate, the next step is to prepare and submit the application to the USPTO. 


Conducting a trademark search is an important step for trademark applicants. Failing to do so could be costly, whereas conducting a comprehensive trademark search may help trademark applicants save thousands of dollars in other brand development costs, such as logos, websites, marketing, and other brand identity and equity investments. It is a business best practice to work with a competent trademark lawyer to conduct a diligence check in addition to a trademark search through the USPTO prior to submitting any trademark application or investing into a brand.


Submitting Your Trademark Application


The preferred method for filing trademark applications is the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS), which allows for online submission at the lowest cost.


It is important to note that once a trademark application is filed, it becomes a public record, accessible to anyone who wishes to review the details. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that all the information provided in the application is accurate and up to date and to ensure that you are comfortable sharing the information. For example, it may be inadvisable to use your personal address and or phone number for your filing if you want to maintain your privacy. It is wise to hire an experienced trademark attorney to process your trademark application.


USPTO Office Actions


It is important to respond promptly to any office actions received from the USPTO post submission of your application. Office actions are official letters issued by the examining attorney at the USPTO assigned to your application. Office actions may require clarification or additional information regarding the mark and generally require a response within 3 to 6 months. Alternatively, office actions may notify applicants of conflicting marks and or suspension of an application pending the registration or cancellation of another application. Responding in a timely manner is crucial to ensure the smooth progress of the application. It is critical to retain a competent trademark lawyer to help you properly respond to USPTO office actions.




Trademarks must be distinctive in order to gain registration with the USPTO. Distinctiveness is evidenced by a trademark’s ability to identify and distinguish goods or services from those of others. Distinctiveness is a crucial trademark concept as it determines the strength and protectability of a trademark. The more distinctive a mark is, the stronger its chances for protection under trademark law.


There are four primary categories of distinctiveness recognized under US trademark law. These include are marks that are:


-           Generic

-           Descriptive

-           Suggestive

-           Arbitrary or Fanciful



Generic marks are common words or terms that cannot receive trademark protection. These marks are the weakest in terms of distinctiveness as they refer to the common name of a product or service. Generic marks cannot be registered as trademarks as they do not indicate a unique source. They refer only to how a product or service is categorized. For example, "bicycle" cannot be trademarked for selling bicycles.


Similarity, descriptive marks directly describe a characteristic, quality, or ingredient of the goods or services, and are generally not protective if the mark is merely descriptive. For example, “bicycle” would simply describe that the product is a bicycle and would not be eligible for trademark registration with the USPTO. 


In contrast to generic marks, descriptive marks may acquire distinctiveness over time through extensive use and consumer recognition. This is referred to as having achieved secondary meaning.


Secondary meaning refers to the association consumers develop between a descriptive mark and a specific source over time. When secondary meaning has been achieved, the mark has now become a brand in consumers’ minds. Sales, consumer surveys, followers, and other metrics are valid proof of secondary meaning. 


American Airlines” is a well-known example of a mark that has acquired secondary meaning. "Sharp" (television) is another example of a mark that also acquired secondary meaning due to its long-standing use and consumer recognition.


competent Maryland or DC trademark lawyer can help you determine whether your mark has achieved secondary meaning sufficient for trademark registration and help you compile relevant evidence for a successful application.


Suggestive trademarks hold a significant position in trademark law for their distinctiveness. These marks subtly hint or suggest a quality, characteristic, or feature of the goods or services, requiring consumers to use their imagination or perception to understand the connection. Suggestive marks strike a balance between being descriptive and being arbitrary or fanciful. They are inherently distinctive and can be immediately eligible for trademark protection without the need to establish secondary meaning.


Examples of suggestive trademarks include "Netflix" for online streaming services, “Stride Rite” for shoes, or "Coppertone" for sunscreens. Their ability to evoke a concept or image while still leaving room for interpretation contributes to their strength and protectability in the marketplace.


Arbitrary or fanciful trademarks are the strongest in terms of distinctiveness as they bear no relation to the goods or services they identify. For example, "Apple" for computers, “Nike” for clothings, “Amazon” for e-commerce, and “Shell” for gas.


A mark may be arbitrary or fanciful for one type of use while also being generic or descriptive for another type of use. This is illustrated by the mark, “Apple”, which is generic or descriptive for fruits, and arbitrary or fanciful for computers.


Distinctiveness is a crucial requirement of trademark registration. Experienced Maryland trademark lawyers can help you determine whether your mark is sufficiently distinctive for protection by the USPTO or help you build distinctiveness.


Classes of Protection


The USPTO uses the Nice Classification (NCL) system, as established by the Nice Agreement of 1957. Trademark classes, also known as International Classes, are categories used to classify goods and services for trademark registration purposes. There are 45 classes, with classes 1-34 covering goods and classes 35-45 covering services.


Each class represents a distinct category of products or services. For example, Class 9 includes computer software, Class 25 covers clothing, Class 35 includes services related to advertising, retail, and business management, and Class 42 encompasses software development, scientific, and technological services.


Trademark classes are crucial for ensuring that trademarks are registered in the appropriate categories and that there is no confusion between similar marks within the same class or between similar marks in related classes. This classification system helps streamline the trademark registration process and provides clarity for both trademark owners and consumers. Our Maryland trademark attorneys can advise you on using trademark classes in order to accurately identify and protect your trademarks in the US market.

Likelihood of Confusion

Trademark registration plays a crucial role in protecting brands against confusing similarity and ensuring fair competition in the marketplace. A trademark may not be registered with the USPTO if it is confusingly similar to a registered trademark and or service mark. It is important to consult a competent Maryland trademark lawyer if you are submitting a trademark application or if you have received an office action from the USPTO claiming that your trademark is confusingly similar to a registered mark.


Confusing similarity in trademarks and service marks refers to the likelihood of confusion between two marks that could lead consumers to believe that the goods or services offered under those marks originate from the same source. This confusion can arise due to similarities in brand names, logos, or even the goods and services themselves.


When evaluating confusing similarity, one important aspect to consider is the comparison of brand names. If two brand names are visually, phonetically, or conceptually identical or similar, confusion among consumers may arise. For example, if two companies use similar names like, "Red Cloud" and "Red Cloud", consumers may mistakenly assume a connection between the two, leading to confusion and potential harm to the original brand's reputation. Similarly, two companies using names like, “Red Cloud” and “Red Cloud Tech” might cause confusion. Part of the USPTO’s function is to protect consumers as this confusion may be related to attempts to purposely mislead consumers in order to effectuate the sale of counterfeit goods.


Various criteria can be considered to determine the similarity between brand names:


Visual similarity involves analyzing the appearance of the names, including their spelling, letter combinations, and overall visual impression. This is of particular importance when evaluating visual trademarks and service marks in the form of logos.


Phonetical similarity focuses on the pronunciation of the names and whether they sound similar when spoken aloud. Phonetical similarity is also important when evaluating sound trademarks and service marks, such as Netflix’s “ta-da” startup sound.

Conceptual similarity considers the meaning or association evoked by the names and whether they convey a similar idea or message. An experienced Maryland trademark attorney is crucial in ensuring your mark does not conflict with any registered trademarks or service marks.


Apart from brand names, confusing similarity can also occur between trademarks within the same or different trademark classes. Trademark classes categorize goods and services based on their nature or purpose. Two trademarks that are similar within the same class or across different classes can cause confusion among consumers, even if the brand names are different.


For instance, if two marks are used for similar goods or services in the same class, consumers may believe that they originate from the same source or are somehow affiliated. Similarly, if two marks are used for different goods or services but are highly similar, consumers may mistakenly assume a connection between them. This confusion can be detrimental to both the original brand's reputation and the consumer's ability to make informed purchasing decisions.


Trademarks covering products such as perfume in Class 3 may be related to clothing in covered in Class 25. The USPTO will use market research to establish the connection between classes based upon business activity. Louis Vuitton is well-known example of the connection between Class 3 and Class 25, as the company sells both products.


It is important to consider the overall impression created by the marks, as well as the likelihood of confusion among consumers who encounter them. Factors such as the similarity of the marks, the relatedness of the goods or services, the channels of trade, and the degree of consumer sophistication are taken into account when evaluating confusing similarity. An experienced trademark lawyer can help you collect relevant evidence to argue to distinguish your trademark from a registered trademark.

Basis For Filing

United States trademark is governed by the Lanham Act. The federal government has the power to regulate trademarks through the commerce clause of the United States Constitution. Federal registration is administered through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), which protects trademarks currently in use in commerce or intending to be used in commerce. A competent trademark attorney can help you determine which trademark registration basis is best for your mark.

Trademarks are specifically classified by the USPTO on the bases of “intent to use” and “use-based” applications or registrations. The choice of either basis depends on the stage of commercial usage of the mark at the time of application.

Use In Commerce

Use of a mark is considered "use in commerce" when it is placed on goods, containers, displays, or used in the sale or advertising of services (such as in websites or social media). The key aspect is that the mark must be used in a way that directly associates it with the source of the business activities and the goods or services being offered.

Use-based registration requires actual use of the mark in commerce at the time of filing the application. This means that the mark must already be in use in connection with the goods or services specified in the application. Use in commerce does not include test sales or one offs. Sales must indicate that the trademark is actually being used in commerce by the mark owner. The applicant must submit a specimen or sample of the mark as evidence of its use in commerce. The applicant must also specify the date of first use in commerce as well as first use anywhere. Use-based registration provides immediate protection and rights to the mark upon registration.

The dates of use in commerce are extremely critical in the event of attempts to cancel your trademark by other mark owners. An earlier first use in commerce date provides priority over other applications from would-be registrants. The United States follows a first to file rule, meaning that the first person to file a trademark has priority of ownership and can therefore stop the registration of conflicting marks. However, in the event of a conflict, the rule shifts to first-to-use. A registered trademark may be cancelled, or an application for registration of a trademark may be opposed, in the event of an attempt to cancel a trademark by a mark owner who claims prior use in commerce. It is important to consult a Maryland trademark lawyer to properly identify your use in commerce dates in order to fully protect your trademark.

Intent To Use (ITU)


Intent to use (ITU) is a basis for trademark registration when the applicant has not yet used the mark in commerce but has a genuine intention to do so in the future. This allows applicants to secure their rights to a mark before actually using it in commerce. To file an ITU application, the applicant must provide a sworn statement of their bona fide intent to use the mark in commerce, along with a description of the goods or services in connection with which the mark will be used.


The main difference between intent to use and use-based registration bases lies in the timing of the use requirement. Intent to use allows applicants to reserve their rights to a mark before actual use in commerce, while use-based registration requires proof of current use at the time of filing. The date of filing an intent to use application will act as a first use date to bar other applications or to defeat efforts to cancel a registered trademark.


Upon acceptance, intent to use applications grant a limited period, typically six months, for the applicant to submit evidence of actual use in commerce. This period can be extended up to five times, each time for an additional six months, through the filing of extension requests. Once the mark is used in commerce, the applicant must file a Statement of Use (SOU) to convert the intent to use application into a use-based registration.


Use In Commerce

The choice of registration basis depends on the stage of commercial usage of the mark at the time of application. Working with a competent trademark attorney during the registration process is highly recommended due to the complexity of trademark applications, as well as the required processing time.


Processing times for new applications vary but routinely range between 11 to 13 months if there are no issues with the application. This is in addition to the processing of office actions, extension requests, and statement of use filings. A trademark attorney can provide valuable guidance and expertise to ensure that the application is properly prepared and submitted and can also assist in responding to any letters or inquiries from the USPTO, in addition to helping maintain the registration.

Maryland DC
Trademark Lawyers

Trademark Infringement

Trademark infringement refers to the unauthorized use of a trademark or a similar mark that may cause confusion among consumers. It violates the exclusive rights of trademark owners. Infringers unlawfully capitalize on the goodwill and reputation built by a trademark owner, leading to detrimental consequences for both parties involved. The legal implications of trademark infringement are severe and can result in significant penalties and damages.


Enforcing trademark rights is crucial for protecting intellectual property and maintaining a competitive market. Without effective trademark enforcement, companies risk losing their market position, reputation, and customer loyalty. Companies should monitor the market for potential infringements and take prompt action when necessary. Registered trademark owners may bring trademark infringement actions, which may include claims that the infringing use dilutes the distinctiveness of the brand or tarnishes the brand.


When infringement occurs, companies can issue cease and desist letters to the infringing party, demanding immediate cessation of the unauthorized use. This initial step aims to resolve the matter without resorting to litigation. It also establishes that the infringing party has been put on notice of the registered trademark owner’s disapproval of the infringing use. However, if the infringer does not comply, legal action can be pursued. Litigation involves filing a lawsuit against the infringing party, presenting evidence of the infringement, and seeking legal remedies.


The legal process for handling trademark infringement disputes can be complex. Courts consider factors like the similarity of the marks, the potential for confusion among consumers, and the strength of the trademark's distinctiveness, in addition to consumer sophistication and industry norms.


To establish trademark infringement, the owner of the trademark must demonstrate the following elements:


-           Ownership: The plaintiff must prove that they own a valid and legally protected trademark. This typically involves showing proof of registration with the USPTO and any state trademark offices through which the mark has been registered.


-           Use in Commerce: The plaintiff must establish that they have been using the trademark in commerce, meaning that they have been using the mark to sell goods or provide services in connection with the mark.


-           Likelihood of Confusion: The plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant's use of a similar mark is likely to cause confusion among consumers.


Gathering evidence is crucial in proving the existence of trademark infringement. This may involve compiling records of trademark registration, examples of the infringing use, and evidence of consumer confusion or harm caused by the infringement. Witness testimonies and expert opinions may also be included to strengthen the case.


If trademark infringement is proven, the owner of the trademark may be entitled to various remedies, including injunctive relief (court orders to prevent further infringement), monetary damages (to compensate for the harm caused), punitive damages (to deter further infringement), and the destruction of infringing goods or materials.


It is important for businesses to actively monitor and enforce their trademarks to prevent infringement. This can involve conducting regular searches for potential infringing marks, sending cease and desist letters to infringers, and taking legal action when necessary. A diligent Maryland trademark lawyer can help you maintain your trademark rights and conduct ongoing enforcement of your rights.

Hire A Maryland DC Trademark Attorney



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