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A trademark protects the source of origin of goods or services. This allows the consumer who will purchase these goods or services to know who was responsible for the manufacture of them. A trademark can be a single word, short phrase, or graphic logo. Trademarks run for 10 years and can be renewed indefinitely as long as the owner has continued interstate use of the mark.

A trademark cannot be descriptive of the goods or services to which it is applied. Ownership is primarily based on first to use the mark on the goods and services in interstate commerce

A federal trademark application can be made under intent to use (ITU) or under actual interstate use.

An ITU application must be converted into a use application within 36 months of allowance by the Trademark Office. Time extensions to file a use statement are required every six months after the allowance of the application.

Conversion to use statement must show actual interstate use of the mark on the goods and services before the allowed application will become a registered trademark.

Before a trademark is adopted and used or application filed under intent to use, a full U.S. trademark availability search is recommended through an independent trademark search organization. Such trademark searches look not only in state and federal pending and issued trademark records, but also in a number of unique databases that have been compiled which will indicate prior use of a mark.

Harpman & Harpman can provide such full U.S. availability searches through independent searches, such as Thomson Reuters a world leader in trademark services at a cost of $975. When necessary, such research can be referred to litigation counsel for review, analysis and a legal opinion. Harpman & Harpman has established relationships with litigating counsel throughout the country.