What is a Trademark Number?
A trademark number is the number that is assigned to a pending or registered trademark. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) assigns the number that is often not longer than seven digits in length. Pending trademarks are given serial numbers, and registered trademarks are given a registration number. The public can research general information about pending and registered trademarks in the USPTO database using the trademark number. Individuals are often advised by the USPTO and attorneys to search the database prior to filing a trademark to see whether another individual or entity already has a claim to a particular trademark.
Individuals can use the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) database to conduct a trademark number search. The database is maintained and provided by the USPTO on its website. As long as the mark does not contain a design element, it’s sufficient for individuals to conduct a search using a registered number or serial number. Trademarks with a design element often need to be searched using a design code. The USPTO also has a Public Search Facility for individuals to search trademarks in person during its office hours.
Once a trademark application is filed, the applicant receives a filing receipt with a serial number. That trademark number can be used by the applicant to check the status of the application. For example, an applicant can call the USPTO or use the Trademark Applications and Registrations Retrieval (TARR) database to see whether the registration is still pending or if the trademarks filed were registered. The USPTO advises applicants to check the status at least once every six months. It can take longer than one year for the USPTO to register a trademark, and some trademarks take several years.
Any letters sent by the USPTO once the trademark number is assigned will contain the serial number for the applicant and the USPTO’s reference. The individual also has to indicate the serial or registered number when corresponding with the USPTO or filing further documents. For example, an applicant may want to file exhibits with the trademark after submitting an initial application, and he or she would have to reference the serial number on the letter and the exhibit itself. The numbers help to facilitate the processing of applications and other legal documents associated with pending and registered trademarks. The volume of trademark applications and related documents is often so voluminous that it makes it difficult for the USPTO to find and process correspondence without those numbers.
From what I understand, the item (or idea or whatever else) is protected by trademark as soon as it is used in commerce. Let's say you come up with a logo for your company. As soon as you use that logo on a sign or put it in front of the public in any way, it is protected by applicable trademark laws.
So, why bothering registering a trademark? According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, registering a trademark gives you a lot of advantages. You make a public claim that you owe a trademark, you can bring breach of trademark actions in federal court, registering a trademark with the U.S. federal government will help you get it registered in other countries, etc.
When someone applies for a trademark, is the object of that trademark legally protected? Or, does trademark protection kick in after a trademark is registered?
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