How to Trademark a Phrase: A Guide for Newbies

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Figuring out how to trademark a phrase is an integral part of developing your brand’s identity.

If you’ve found a specific phrase or slogan representing your brand’s vision, trademarking can protect it from theft.

In this guide, we will explore how you can trademark a phrase and why it is crucial that you do so.

How to Protect a Trademark

First and foremost, you’re probably wondering, “Can I trademark a phrase?”

The most important thing to know when trademarking a phrase is to learn how to do it properly.

There are several ways that trademarks can be protected, one of which being “common law” protection.

With “common law” trademark protection, using the trademark openly when conducting business can protect it.

Still, there is a significant issue with obtaining this protection, as it is challenging to defend in court.

You will need to prove that you frequently use the phrase when conducting business and that you were the first to use it.

So, instead, a far better alternative is to ensure that you take the steps involved with trademarking a phrase.

Registering a phrase with the help of your state government or agency is a sure-fire way to guarantee you are protected in court.

Alternatively, you can choose to register your phrase federally with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Nationwide protection is often recommended, although it will require more research before applying for registration.

Before you begin the application process, it would be best to review the rules about trademarking slogan first.

Otherwise, you could be facing a situation where your papers get continually rejected.

What Are the Phrase Trademarking Rules?

So, can I trademark a phrase? You can, indeed.

Let’s take a look at the general rules to follow so that you can do this.

1. Commercial Use

The only phrases that can be trademarked are those that you will use for commercial purposes.

Someone can’t protect a phrase simply because they like using it or they were the first to think of it.

When trademarking a slogan, the text will need to be connected with the sale of goods and/or services.

2. Industry Restrictions

If you have come up with a unique phrase and want to use it for business, there are restrictions regarding the business class.

Phrases can only be protected against other companies using them within the same industry or class of business as your own.

For example, cosmetics companies can only consider trademarking a phrase to protect it from other cosmetics companies.

3. Company Identification

This rule seems to vary depending on the case, which is important to note.

In most instances, your trademark application must detail how the phrase or slogan pertains to your business.

It cannot only relate to the products and/or services you are selling; it must also point directly to the company selling them.

4. Duplicate Submissions

One of the most transparent rules with learning how to trademark a slogan relates to duplicate submissions.

If another company has already trademarked a slogan, your application will be declined.

This rule is why you must conduct research first to determine if your slogan already exists.

5. Uniqueness and Distinction

When businesses trademark a phrase, it needs to be a unique and distinct phrase related directly to their company name.

For example, they cannot trademark a common phrase used in casual conversation.

You’ll need to ensure that it is not generic, or your application could be denied.

tips on how to trademark a phrase

How Much Does it Cost to Trademark a Phrase?

With a unique and identifiable slogan, you can make plenty of profits from a memorable slogan.

Whether you’re asking, “Can you trademark a name?” or learning how to trademark a slogan, you should consider the potential costs involved.

There are specific fees associated with filing a trademark application, although they are minimal in the grand scheme.

Let’s take a look at the most common fees you will encounter when filing for protection:

1. Direct Filing Fees

Using the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) is most common.

There are three generic options that you can choose from when asking, “Can you trademark a name?”

TEAS Plus: $350 upfront

The Plus package is often preferred because it allows you to pay for everything upfront.

The fees included with this package are:

  • Basic filing: $225
  • An additional class of goods and services: $125

If further documentation is required, you will receive notifications via email for convenience.

TEAS Reduced Fee: $275 to $400

With this package, you can opt to pay additional fees at a later date, if required.

The breakdown of this package includes:

  • Basic filing: $275
  • An additional class of goods or services (optional): $125

Like the TEAS Plus package, you will receive any further communications via email.

TEAS Regular: $400

The final package you will be able to choose from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is the Regular plan.

With this, you will be responsible for:

  • Basic filing: $400
  • Fees for adding extra goods and services classes
  • Ability to submit extra documentation outside of TEAS

2. Maintenance Fees

As the owner of a trademarking slogan, you will be responsible for maintenance fees over your ownership.

Without keeping up with these fees, you are at risk of losing your trademark.

Depending on the length of time you have registered your trademark, the fees could differ.

10-Year Registration

Those with a 10-year registration will need to choose a specific date between nine and 10 years from their original registration.

Each business will be required to file a Section 9 affidavit that proves you intend to continue using your trademarked phrase.

The cost for maintaining your trademark for 10 years is $400.

Five-Year Registration

As a less expensive option, companies can opt to register their trademark for only five years.

Depending on your liquidity when applying, this could be a better alternative to lower upfront costs.

You will need to choose a date between your fifth and sixth registration anniversary, similar to the 10-year registration.

Businesses will be required to file a Section 8 affidavit proving continued use rather than Section 9.

The fee for a five-year registration is $125.

How to Trademark a Phrase

With an idea of the fees associated with learning how to copyright a saying or phrase, let’s get into the steps.

Applying for a trademark is a relatively straightforward process and can be done without a lawyer.

Step 1: Search Registered Marks

The first thing you will need to do is search for registered trademarks before using a phrase.

It is essential that you look into federal, state, and common law trademarks to ensure you are not infringing.

You can complete this process entirely online using the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Search System.

Step 2: File Your Trademark Application

Once you have confirmed that your desired phrase isn’t already being used, you can begin with the application.

Again, you can do this entirely online using the Trademark Electronic Application System through the USPTO.

The most important thing to note during this process is the application fees, which aren’t refundable even with denied applications.

Step 3: Waiting for Approval

As soon as you have submitted all the forms for your application, the next step is to wait.

All applications will need to be revised by a USPTO attorney to ensure they are legally sound.

Unfortunately, this can take up to several months, depending on the number of applicants.

Throughout the approval process, you could face three scenarios:

  • An approved application
  • A rejected application
  • Receiving a letter requesting more information

Based on the response you receive, you can either begin conducting business with your trademarked slogan or not.

It is vital to respond to any inquiries as quickly as possible to prevent processing delays.

Can You Make Money By Trademarking a Phrase?

With a better idea of how to copyright a saying or phrase, you must figure out how to put your efforts to work.

Instead of holding onto a phrase for business use, you can also monetize it to generate income over an extended period.

Let’s explore the ways you can experience financial benefits from trademarking a phrase.

1. Business Use

The most apparent benefit to knowing whether or not can you trademark a name is understanding how it directly affects your business.

Having an identifiable name or slogan is a sure-fire way to develop a brand identity.

You will find a recognizable slogan that helps you reach your target audience more effectively, translating into higher sales.

Unique and catchy slogans are also a fantastic way to show professionalism to the general public.

Customers are more likely to purchase products and services from a company with an established logo.

It will make it significantly easier for them to differentiate what you have for sale from your competitor’s offerings.

2. Licensing

Another widespread technique that people do to make money from copyrighting a phrase is through licensing.

It is pretty standard in the sports industry, as teams will loan their names to brands to put them on their products.

The primary focus of licensing is to lend your trademark to other businesses to help sell goods or services.

Your licensed slogan will make another company’s product more recognizable, leading to higher sales.

In exchange, you can receive funds for lending your phrase or slogan to the company.

3. Co-Branding

Another option that is slightly in line with licensing is co-branding.

Co-branding is an agreement that two companies enter to benefit mutually from each other’s copyrights.

For example, one company will put its logo on another company’s products to help sell more items.

A great example of this is when Betty Crocker and Hershey developed a line of quickly baked brownies containing Hershey’s chocolates.

Betty Crocker’s customers were enticed by the concept of a new flavor.

At the same time, Hershey’s customers enjoyed the idea of making Betty Crocker brownies.

It’s a fantastic way to take advantage of two reputable brands and combine their efforts for higher profits.

Trademarking a Phrase

Learning how to trademark a phrase is more straightforward than many expect, especially if you have an easy-to-follow guide.

By completing the required forms and providing necessary documentation, you can begin conducting business with your new slogan.

The challenging part is trying to find a unique and identifiable phrase that doesn’t already exist.

Yet, once you do, the entire trademarking process should go smoothly.

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