I cannot think of an industry where trademark protection is needed more than in the fashion industry. The fashion industry accounts for the most counterfeited products in the world. In a 2016 report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Nike, for example, was the most knocked off brand in the world. Understanding and being able to navigate the trademark registration process is essential for designers and clothing manufacturers so that they can protect their name, reputation, and brand value.
The below guide will outline the most important aspects of the trademark registration process to consider.
Naming Your Clothing Line
When selecting a name for your clothing line, it’s important that you select a name that is distinct. The most important requirement for the registrability of a trademark is that the mark is distinct and not generic. A mark is distinct and will likely be federally registered by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) if a consumer of the goods has never encountered the mark before. Selecting a distinct or unique name isn’t only good for the registrability of your mark, but is also advantageous for branding purposes. A distinct trademark can help prevent imitators who might try to financially thrive off of your creative work and tarnish the reputation that your brand has established in the marketplace.
Conducting A Clearance Search
After you’ve selected a name for your clothing line, the next step is to make sure that your chosen name is available. You’ll want to conduct a comprehensive “clearance search” to ensure that your selected mark is not similar to a mark that is already federally registered. It’s important to conduct a trademark clearance search before filing a trademark application and before using the mark in the marketplace because the search will help you make informed branding decisions and will increase your chances of receiving a federal registration for your clothing line. During the trademark registration process, an examining attorney from the USPTO will conduct an in-depth search to make sure that your mark is not “confusingly similar” to that of another trademark that has already been registered. If the examiner concludes that your mark could potentially confuse another, the examiner will issue what’s called an “Office Action,” with an explanation for the rejection of the mark.
Selecting a Specimen
The USPTO requires that you submit what’s called a “specimen” as part of your trademark application. A specimen is a specific example of how you are using your trademark in the marketplace. The USPTO requires applicants to submit specimen(s) because it wants to see how the mark is viewed by the public. Typically, for clothing, proper specimens include placing the trademark on a tag or label attached to the garment(s) to identify your brand.
Submitting The Trademark Application
Once you’ve selected your name, conducted a clearance search for your trademark, and selected your specimen, the next step is to complete your trademark application for registration. A trademark application goes through several stages of examination before the mark is registered with the USPTO. The registrability of your mark will depend on the uniqueness of your mark, the availability of your mark, properly completing your application, and adhering to any deadlines made by the USPTO.
*This information is for educational purposes only. No attorney-client relationship has been formed.
Who We Are
Zara Watson Law is an intellectual property law firm specializing in the protection and maintenance of its client’s trademarks. Our mission is to help creative entrepreneurs protect their brands and businesses. If you have any questions regarding this article or would like to speak with Zara about protecting your mark, click on the link above and schedule a time to chat.