Trademarks are a powerful communication tool. A single brand or logo can speak volumes about you, your company principles, and what you bring to the metaphorical table. So naturally, it is imperative that you maintain total control of your brand. This article takes a look at the requirements for Colorado’s trademark registration process.
Need to Register a Trademark?
What is a Trademark?
The Colorado statute on trademark registration defines a trademark as:
“a word, name, symbol, device, or any combination thereof, including packaging, configuration of goods, or other trade dress, used by a person to identify and distinguish the person’s goods or services from those manufactured, sold, or rendered by others and to indicate the source of the goods or services, even if that source is unknown.” (See Colorado Revised Statute § 7-70-101)
More than that, a trademark is the goodwill you build around your logo and brand. People should know exactly what to expect when they see a product with your trademark. Where would Nike be without its famous “swoosh” logo?
Why You Should Register Your Trademark
Merely incorporating under “ABC Business” with the Colorado Secretary of State is not enough to protect your trademark. A separate form is used and a separate register is kept. More importantly, registering a business name offers very little in the way of legal protection. It simply means you may conduct business in Colorado.
Keep Competitors at Bay
Formally registering your trademark will prevent competitors from using a similar brand to represent a similar good or service. This will eliminate consumer confusion and make your product stand out at the same time.
Federal & State Registration
The United States has a two-tiered system of trademark protection: federal and state. Federally registering with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office extends your trademark rights across the entire nation.
A state registration will grant rights within that state’s boundaries only. Each state has its own system of trademark management.
In Colorado, you can only register a trademark once you have actually used it in your business. Then you must file an electronic application to register your trademark with the Secretary of State.
You can find trademark and service mark registration forms, along with other information, on its website.
Before You Register
First, think about your business name. Make sure it is truly representative of your brand. The last thing you want to do is change the name after you have already invested your hard-earned money and time into marketing your product under that name.
How an Attorney Can Help
Once you are sure the name is perfect, you will need to make sure your trademark is available for use in Colorado.
All states maintain separate trademark registers. An attorney can help you conduct a comprehensive search through various online databases, which scan federal and state trademark registers.
Although this search is not a requirement, it can be extremely helpful before you start the application process.
Types of Marks Covered
Colorado registration allows for a standard character trademark and a special form trademark. Every trademark must be one or the other, but never both.
Standard Character Trademark
A standard character trademark is expressed in words, letters, numbers, or any combination thereof. However, it does not lay claim to a specific font style, size, color, or design element. In other words, this kind of trademark protects the phrase regardless of how the words are displayed.
Special Form Trademark
Every other trademark is a special form trademark. This is used to register words and/or letters with a particular stylized appearance, a mark consisting of a design element, or a combination of stylized wording and design. Essentially, this trademark can protect a logo with or without words.
Other Registration Requirements
If your logo is a standard character trademark, you will need to include the characters that make up the mark in your application. Applying for a special form trademark needs an attached drawing, along with a written description of that drawing.
In addition to your true name and address, your application must also include:
- a description of the goods or services for which the trademark is used
- the class the goods or services fall into
- the date you first used the mark in Colorado
Additionally, you must state a good faith belief that your mark does not infringe on any other trademark rights.
If You are Not a Colorado Resident
If you do not live in Colorado, you may have to appoint a registered agent who does. You will need the agent’s name, address, and a statement of consent from them if this is the case. An attorney can serve as your registered agent, although it is not a requirement.
Key Benefits of State Registration
It is important to remember that registering a trademark with the Colorado Secretary of State will not protect it against a federal trademark or copyright. However, registration under Colorado law is easier, faster, and less expensive than federal trademark registration.
Additionally, registering your trademark allows you to provide notice to the world that you are using the mark. It also affords you certain legal rights in the event of trademark infringement.
If you are only going to use your mark in Colorado, you only need to register it here. In fact, federal registration will not be permitted if your mark does not affect trade “across state, territorial, or international borders.”
Trademarks Expiration & Renewal
Trademarks are effective for a period of five years starting from the date you file with the Secretary of State.
After your five-year period is up, you can renew the trademark registration for another five-year term. To do this, you must submit a renewal application 180 days before the current registration expires.
Do Not Let Your Trademark Expire
All trademarks must be renewed on or before the five-year anniversary date. Expired trademarks cannot be renewed. If you let your trademark lapse, you will have to refile it as a new trademark.
Why You Should Hire a Trademark Attorney
Registering a trademark seems simple enough. However, the process is actually quite detailed and requires many legal decisions along the way.
A skilled and experienced attorney will significantly increase your chances of securing a trademark registration than if you file a trademark on your own. Call 303-688-0944 for a free case assessment today.