Tuesday, February 24, 2009


For an inventor a trademark is usually a word, symbol or design that identifies his product from others. But, trademarks can also be colors, smells and sounds. Owning the trademark, you can keep others from using the particular identification you’ve assumed.

You can claim ownership of a trademark by adding the familiar, small “tm” symbol near your chosen mark or word. And you can register it with the USPTO, getting publication in the “Official Gazette”.

Last time I looked, a trademark cost $325. Without opposition, the PTO will issue a certificate in about 12 weeks. . Then you can use the circled R, legally replacing the former tm mark. It can still be contested, for five years. After that, it’s all yours.

Duplicates of Trademarks do happen! The USPTO allows the same mark for “different” situations. My friend Marshajene sells her tiered in-line baby buggy under the trademark name “double-decker”. Yes, “double-decker”- the same sandwich name used by Taco Bell. But they don’t make baby buggies. That must be the difference.

Just for the heck of it, upon planning this topic I went to the USPTO and searched the two word phrase “Double Decker”. I got 46 “hits”. Some were “dead” listings. Others had extra words added - Like “Double Decker Tours”. They don’t count. But, a total of 12 were using the same two words – Double Decker. Sometimes there was special script, or an illustration along with the words.

I’m still really baffled by these two I located. Taco Bell in Irvine California wanted the trademark for sandwiches eaten on or off their premises . And a Chattanooga Tennessee bakery wanted the same words for marshmallow sandwiches. They seem similar, but probably they taste different.

You see, there really are interesting things you can discover with a Trademark search. Soon, you’ll get a real horror story about not properly searching for registered trademarks.

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