For those ready to invest in growing their brand, a trademark is almost a requirement. Goods and services without a trademark can be copied or impersonated—actions which can go unpunished without documented legal protections. This is true for every industry, including sporting goods.
The process of getting a sporting goods trademark is largely similar to any other trademark. You can receive one through the USPTO. The difference lies in the application process. You’ll need to tell the USPTO that you are applying for a class 28 trademark, which is the sporting goods and game equipment classification.
Classification 28 is a very broad category and includes:
Yes, Christmas decorations are under the same classification as sporting goods and hunting equipment. This is why you should double check that the item you are looking at trademarking is, in fact, in the category you are applying for.
If you choose the wrong one, you could be denied, resulting in a loss of the application fees and months of time wasted opening a new application. A USPTO intellectual property lawyer can help you fill out all of the application information needed to ensure you have the best chance of receiving your trademark.
Generally, there are only a few steps that you will need to go through during the application process, but it can still take a long time to get your trademark. You can expect to spend around 12 months or longer during the trademarking process, even if you are not denied or objected to during the application. That said, the steps are:
Keep in mind that even if there is a similar trademark to yours, it might not be denied. Generally, trademarks in different classes aren’t considered to be conflicting, despite similarities. This means, if it is in another class, you might not have to worry about objections or lawsuits. However, you should try to make your design as unique as possible to avoid potential problems, and you can talk to an intellectual property lawyer if you have concerns.
Objections and refusals of trademarks happen regularly, so you shouldn’t be discouraged. There are a few ways you can help reduce the chances of objections and refusals happening during the application process.
Common mistakes in the application process:
Most of these mistakes can be handled either through proper management, reading the USPTO documentation, or going through an intellectual property attorney.
After you have submitted your application, you will have the option to check on the current status of your trademark through the Trademark Status and Document Retrieval (TSDR) system. You should check on your documents at the minimum of 90 to 180 days for information.
If you were denied or are needing to respond to office action, it will appear there. If you don’t check on them and respond within 6 months, your application will be considered abandoned, requiring you to resubmit and pay the fee again.
You should always check the USPTO documentation before and after the application process. It might be required of you to submit certain documentation before your trademark can go completely live, or you may need to pay other fees.
If you are concerned about conflicting trademarks, if your trademark would be considered weak, or if you have questions about the process, you can hire an intellectual property attorney. They are USPTO attorneys—who may also function as examiners—that can guide you through the process of getting your trademark, patent, or copyright. They can’t speed up the USPTO application process, but they can answer questions and suggest changes that could save you the trouble of refusals and objections.
Note that all refusals, denials, and abandoned applications will have their case fee forfeit. On average, it costs $250 to $350 just for trademark application and maintenance, and other documentation can raise that number even higher. Getting refused is both a loss of money and time, so make sure you have all the information you need to avoid difficulty in the application.
As mentioned, trademarking is a lengthy and expensive process—the time alone takes 12 to 18 months on average. During this time, you can use your trademark, but you cannot ask someone who has a conflicting trademark to stop until it gets accepted. An intellectual property attorney can make a major difference in ensuring that the process goes smoothly, keeping you from having to resubmit the fees or wait another year and a half for processing. Four Reasons Legal is an expert in handling intellectual property rights. Contact us today, and schedule a free 30 minute phone consultation about your sporting goods trademark.