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Trademarks

What is a trademark?

A trademark is a word, name, phrase, logo, or symbol used to identify your goods or services to distinguish them from those sold by other people. It serves as source indicator, identifying who made the product and, through advertising, should guarantee the quality of the items with the mark on them. A trademark registration allows the holder to prevent anyone from using a brand that is likely to cause confusion with the registered mark for the same goods or services. Remember, a trademark identifies a product or service; a trade name identifies the business. A trademark will NOT prevent new businesses from registering the same name with the Secretary of State. The business owner must pursue private legal action to enforce his/her rights to the registered trade name.

How Are Trademark Rights Established?

Trademarks can be registered at both the federal and state levels. If your business is only conducted within the state of Colorado’s borders, a state trademark registration may be appropriate. If filing only in Colorado, you may not register the trademark until you have actually used it in your business. If you intend to conduct your business in more than one state or on the internet, a federal trademark registration may be appropriate. On the federal level, you may file based on a good faith or bona fide intention to use the mark. However, it will require additional paperwork and fees when it is placed into use in interstate commerce. Federal registration confers the following benefits:

  • Registered trademarks protect the mark across the United States, not just within the local area as common law trademarks do.
  • All registered trademarks are listed on the USPTO database. This makes it easy for competing businesses to learn about your mark and avoid using it.
  • Businesses show they have a registered trademark using the ® symbol, rather than the ™ symbol used for common law trademarks.
  • Registered trademark holders can file lawsuits in a federal court to apply their trademark rights
  • Easier to get a foreign trademark and stop foreign businesses from selling their goods in the U.S

What Are the Terms of the Trademark?

Trademarks registered in Colorado are valid for ten years and may be renewed for an additional ten year term, as long as the goods and services are still being used in the business. Trademarks registered with the federal government are valid for ten years. Between the fifth and sixth year, you must file an “affidavit of use” to certify that you are still using the trademark in commerce. Every ten years you may file an “affidavit of renewal” so long as the mark is still being used in interstate commerce.

Where Do You Register a Trademark?

Trademarks are registered with the Colorado Secretary of State if your mark is used only within Colorado borders. If your trademark will be used in more than one state, it may be registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Colorado
Colorado Secretary of State Division of Commercial Recordings
1700 Broadway, Suite 250
Denver, CO 80290
www.sos.state.co.us

Federal Government
Rocky Mountain U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
1961 Stout Street, 14th Floor
Denver, CO 80294
Www.uspto.gov/denver