Q: It is my goal to become an entrepreneur. I have the trade name, the drive and the concept. I would like to know step-by-step how to trademark a concept.
–Cynthia Eleby Pierce
Hackensack, New Jersey
A: Like patents, trademarks and brand names safeguard your product or service from infringement and grant you exclusive rights to its use. You should register a state or federal trademark, especially in the event of a lawsuit.
Begin the trademark filing procedure by conducting a name search of both registered and unregistered marks. You can search in the Trademark Register of the U.S. or CompuMark Directory of the U.S. Trademarks, or in your state office or visit a patent and trademark depository library. Professional trademark search firms, such as Trademark Service Corporation (800-872-6275) or Thomson and Thomson (800-692-8833), can also assist for fees that can cost up to $350.
When your search is done, you can file your application for a trademark at either the state or federal level through the Secretary of State ($50 to $120) or the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) ($245 per product/service). For more information, contact the PTO at 703-308-9000 or www.uspto.gov or see “You’ve Got It Made,” June 1999.