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Trademark Knowledge Base

Responding To Rejections Of Trademark Applications

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) can reject trademark applications on several grounds. The trademark applicant must know the best way to respond to the rejection – and it’s definitely not writing a scathing letter disparaging the USPTO examiner’s qualifications – to get a favorable outcome in the end. Here are things that you need to know about it.


Action Letters

The USPTO examiners write three types of action letters, the term used for trademark application rejections.

  • Technical rejections typically involve procedural oversights or minor matters that can easily be resolved by the appropriate amendments.
  • Substantive rejections usually involve more complicated matters, such as the likelihood of confusion, generic claim, and descriptive mark, which are more challenging to resolve. In most cases, the professional assistance of an experienced patent lawyer is recommended, if not a must, to get approval.
  • Final rejections are written and issued only after you have failed to respond to either of the two abovementioned rejections at least once.


If you receive either a technical or a substantive rejection in the mail or by telephone, you shouldn’t lose hope as the examining attorney will give you at least one chance to answer. You will find that these action letters are common so you’re not being singled out, discriminated against, or targeted for exclusion by the USPTO.


Prescription Period

The action letter always specifies the number of months that you should respond to the issues being raised as the reasons for rejection. In general, the USPTO gives applicants six months to make the appropriate response to an action letter.


If you don’t respond within the prescribed period, you run the risk of having your application considered as abandoned by the USPTO. In case of abandonment, you have to return to square one of the application process if you still want the trademark registration.


The bottom line: Always send your response to an action letter as soon as possible. But avoid rushing your response since you don’t want to run the risk of yet another rejection call or letter for a minor matter. You have to double check that, indeed, your response corresponds to the grounds for rejection.


Choices to Make

You can choose from these three choices when responding to the action letter:

  • Make a response on your own
  • Hire a trademark attorney to handle the response
  • Abandon your application


If you respond to the action letter yourself, you have to make sure that you can actually handle it well – and it’s usually the case for technical rejections. But if you can’t handle the complexity of the grounds for rejection, you shouldn’t try to do so unless you’re willing to risk final rejection.  Your trademark lawyer’s services may seem expensive at first but when you consider the benefits, you will likely be willing to pay for these services in the future.



For details of the trademark application and its related services, please contact us for free consulation.


CtR Intellectual Property Co.

Hong Kong Patent Application Grant Authorised Patent Agent

Offering Professional Patent Application & Related Services

Why Hire An Attorney For Your Initial U.S. Trademark Application?

Filing a trademark application isn’t for the faint-hearted, so to speak, because of the time, energy and effort involved in understanding the trademark law, meeting the requirements of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and dealing with the subsequent actions (e.g., issuance of Office Action). For this reason, you should seriously consider hiring an attorney to take care of these matters in your behalf.


What can an experienced lawyer, particularly one with extensive experience in trademark laws, do for you?


Provide Appropriate Legal Advice

Of course, you can file the application on your own and request the USPTO examining attorney to provide tips that will expedite your application. But the USPTO attorney cannot provide legal advice even if he wants to because otherwise it will be a conflict of interest.


The trademark attorney, in contrast, will provide legal advice regarding your application and its related issues. You can get answers to questions like, “Is the mark protectable by the trademark laws? Are the class of products and/or services that the marks apply to identifiable? Are you able to take appropriate action when the USPTO refuses to register the mark?”


Think of your attorney as your main man in ensuring that your mark becomes registered and protected from infringement by others.


Conduct Searches on the Database

Again, you can search the state and federal databases for similar trademarks as the mark you’re seeking registration for. But it’s such a time-consuming process that you likely won’t have the time and energy for, perhaps not even the patience. Besides, you will likely have other business matters to attend to.


With an attorney on board, you can delegate the task to the professional. Your attorney will search the USPTO database of registered trademarks at the federal level, as well as other databases including the state registration database and the common law unregistered trademarks database. The comprehensive search is a must because even non-registered trademarks similar to your mark and used for selling products and/or services related to yours may well prevent you from registering, using and profiting from your mark, no matter if you think it was your original idea.


Protect Your Trademark Rights

Your attorney can also provide information that will deepen your understanding of your rights and responsibilities as a trademark owner. You will also be provided with relevant advice about the best ways to monitor and enforce your rights and responsibilities, especially in terms of others infringing on your mark. You should also remember that you may also be charged of infringing on other people’s trademarks and your attorney can provide legal assistance on this matter.


The crucial role of your attorney doesn’t stop with the initial application. You can also rely on him or her for meeting the registration maintenance documents, which should be filed on a regular basis. You can then maintain ownership over your mark, a must if you want to continue profiting from it.



For details of the trademark registration application, please contact us for free consulation.


CtR Intellectual Property Co.

Hong Kong Patent Application Grant Authorised Patent Agent

Offering Professional Patent Application & Related Services

The Possible Grounds For Trademark Refusal

Keep in mind that not every initial application for a trademark will be granted approval. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), specifically the examining attorney assigned to your trademark application, can issue an Office Action outlining the substantive reasons for trademark refusal of your application. This brings us to the question: What are the possible substantive reasons that your trademark application can be refused?


Likelihood of Confusion

Keep in mind that the USPTO will conduct a search of its database for conflicting marks only after an initial application has been filed. The examining attorney will determine whether your trademark being applied for has a similar one either still pending or already registered in the USPTO database. The process can take several months so patience is necessary.


The marks and the related products and/or services between your mark and the marks of other entities don’t have to be exactly the same for conflict or confusion to be considered. Instead, it’s considered sufficient if both the marks and their related products and/or services are similar in nature. The similarity should be such that consumers will likely mistakenly believe that both of them come from the same source.


The similarity can be on anything from sound and appearance to meaning. These can include phonetic equivalents, T.J. Chicken and Tee-Jay Chicken; similar appearance even when one uses another stylized; and meaning like “Lupo” and “Wolf” with both having similar images.


Merely Descriptive

The USPTO’s examining attorney will also refuse trademark registration if it merely describes a quality, ingredient, function, characteristic, purpose, or feature of the product and/or service. For example, the mark “Creamy Yogurt” or “World’s Best Bagels” are unacceptable because these merely describe the products instead of being a distinctive brand.


Deceptively Misdescriptive

The mark registration application will also be refused if the mark itself misdescribes a quality, ingredient, function, characteristic, purpose, or feature of the product and/or service; and the misrepresentation being conveyed is possible. Examples include “THC Tea” for tea-based beverages without THC.


Both the merely descriptive and deceptively misdescriptive grounds for refusal also applies to primarily geographical circumstances. There are several instances when it happens including:


  • The mark’s primary significance is a generally known geographic location; the consumers/buyers will likely think that the products and/or services come from the place stated on the mark; and the mark identifies the specific place of origin of said products and/or services. This applies to merely descriptive marks.


  • In case of a deceptively misdescriptive mark, its primary significance is a generally known geographic location; the consumers/buyers will likely think that the products and/or services come from the place stated on the mark; the products and/or services don’t actually come from the stated place; and the misrepresentation will be a significant factor in the decision-making of consumers.


With these strict requirements, you are well-advised to hire an experienced trademark attorney and consultant so that your initial application will have a higher chance of being approved.



For details of the trademark registration, please contact us for free consulation.


CtR Intellectual Property Co.

Hong Kong Patent Application Grant Authorised Patent Agent

Offering Professional Patent Application & Related Services

Crucial Things To Remember About Your Trademark Application

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) conducts an intensive examination of every trademark application submitted by individuals, groups and organizations. Keep in mind that registering your trademark, which can be an image, words or sound, can be a challenging task because of the strict requirements and process, especially if you’re taking it on your own.

We suggest that you hire an experienced trademark agent or attorney to handle the dirty work, so to speak. But it also pays to know the basics of the initial application process since it’s your trademark and the rights and responsibilities that come with it rests squarely on your shoulders.


Select Your Mark Properly

If you want to start the trademark registration process on the right foot, you have to select your mark properly. You have to choose it with extreme care since not every mark can be registered with the USPTO and not every mark can also be legally protected. In case of the latter, a mark may be unacceptable as a basis for a legal claim by its owner who wants to prevent others from using a similar mark on related products and/or services.


You don’t want to make the rookie mistake of submitting an initial application for your trademark only to find out that it cannot be registered. Aside from checking that, indeed, it can be registered, you have to determine the ease and effectiveness of protecting it based on its strength.


You have to take note, too, that USPTO isn’t responsible for the enforcement of your trademark – its primary function is to register trademarks and patents. You, the trademark owner, have the primary and exclusive responsibility for its enforcement including when others are using it to their commercial advantage.


You should also take note of the acceptable format of marks before submission to the USPTO. You must also precisely identify your products and/or services that the mark will be applied on.


Search the Database

Before you file a trademark application, you should also search the USPTO database for similar marks. Your main goal: To determine whether another individual or organization has already claimed trademark rights similar to your mark and used them on related products and/or services through a federal registration.


A clearance search will save costs on trademark registration, too, since the USPTO generally doesn’t grant refunds. Thus, even if your initial application isn’t approved for one reason or another, a refund check won’t be in your mail.


You must also know that any and all personal information submitted to the USPTO at any point in the application and registration process becomes public record. Your full name, phone number and e-mail address, and street address will be part of the public database, which may or may not be a cause for concern on your part.


For details of the trademark registration, please contact us for free consulation.


CtR Intellectual Property Co.

Hong Kong Patent Application Grant Authorised Patent Agent

Offering Professional Patent and Trademark Application & Related Services

Mistakes Derailing Your Trademark Application

Yes, you may have a unique trademark – or at least, you think you have it. But before making brash decisions, you should take a step back and remember that the Patent and Trademark Office doesn’t mess around when it comes to the registration process. You may think that it’s easy enough, especially after reading countless articles on the subject matter, but it isn’t because of the strict filing requirements and the bureaucratic procedures.

Arguably, the worst mistakes that you can do before filing a trademark application are these two things.


Not Hiring An Experienced Trademark Agent or Attorney

Keep in mind that the trademark application process is a legal proceeding protected by the trademark laws. As such, individuals, groups and organizations can be subjected to penalties including fines, surcharges and suspensions in case of violations of trademark laws.


As such, it’s of crucial importance to hire an experienced agent or attorney with a valid license to practice trademark law. Better yet, hire an experienced trademark agent or attorney with a proven track record of success in the field, if you want to increase your chance of success in getting your trademark registered.


Of course, you can file the application on your own but there are many pitfalls to such a do-it-yourself approach. You may well find that the documentary requirements can be voluminous and stringent while the process can be bureaucratic. You won’t likely have the right knowledge and skills to deal with the legal process and, thus, make a mess of it.  Your trademark application can be delayed and its registration jeopardized.


Not Checking That Your Mark Can Be Registered

Your trademark application must be in compliance with many legal requirements before it can be approved for registration. You don’t just fill in the forms, whether you’re filing online or in paper, even if you’re in a hurry to claim the mark (i.e., competitors are using a similar one), lest you find yourself in a bind.


In this regard, you have to ask yourself several questions including:

  • Can your mark actually be registered under the rules and regulations?
  • Can you identify the good and/or services covered by your mark?
  • Can you determine the filing basis for your initial application?


Your trademark agent or attorney can answer these questions and provide guidance on several related matters.  With your trademark registered, you have the assurance that your brand names including the slogans and logos used on your products and/or services will be protected from unauthorized use by other entities.


For details of the trademark registration, please contact us for free consulation.


CtR Intellectual Property Co.

Hong Kong Patent Application Grant Authorised Patent Agent

Offering Professional Patent and Trademark Application & Related Services

Registering Your Trademark Is A Must

In a world obsessed with brands, both on the part of the producers and the consumers, even small businesses have to register trademark! The cost of not doing so can jeopardize the business, as illustrated by the case of Drop Anchor Brewing and Anchor Brewing Co.


A Good Example

Anchor Brewing Co., a large California-based brewery, sent Drop Anchor Brewing, a small Washington State-based craft brewery, a cease and desist letter asking it to stop using the word “Anchor” in its name. The former’s allegation was that it has federal trademark registration over the word and, thus, it has exclusive use of it in the beer industry. The result: Drop Anchor Brewing changed its name as well as everything else on its logo, signs, labels, taps, and even shirts to avoid a costly lawsuit – but the cost of these changes still cost it an arm and a leg.

This case illustrates the benefits of getting your trademark registered on one hand and the hazards of not doing so on the other hand.


A Host of Reasons to Register ASAP  

Don’t think that Drop Anchor Brewing’s case won’t happen to you for whatever reason, such as you’re just a small company with a novel idea. You will be surprised at the intense competition for ideas, goods and services in the market so vigilance is the key.

Why register your brand or mark ASAP, if you haven’t done so yet? Here are four reasons to think about.


  • Setting your brand for success

When you register your brand and its associated images as a trademark, you’re setting it up for success because a brand equals an identity. Your brand identity distinguishes your business and its products and/or services from the rest of the competition – and with a brand-obsessed society, such distinction is crucial to your success.


  • Expanding your business

While you can have exclusive right to use your business name, you can only do so within the state where it’s registered, not on the federal level. Furthermore, your business may have common law trademark protection but it only applies to the geographic area where it’s been used.


When you decide to expand your business operations, particularly opening out-of-state branches, you may run into issues with competitors, consumers and government regulatory agencies. Your target customers, for example, may confuse your brand and business with other businesses with similar names or images. Your competitor with a federal trademark may also file a lawsuit, limit your operations, and/or force a name change, all of which will be costlier than if you registered your trademark at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in the first place.

The bottom line: A trademark registration at the USPTO provides you and your business national exclusive rights over your brand and its related images. This alone comes with a wide range of benefits so act as soon as you can.

For details of the trademark registration, please contact us for free consulation.


CtR Intellectual Property Co.

Hong Kong Patent Application Grant Authorised Patent Agent

Offering Professional Patent,

Trademark Registration & Related Services

What Are The Types Of IP Protection right for you?

Patents, copyrights and trademarks are different from each other and each one serves a different purpose. All three, nonetheless, are forms of intellectual property (IP) protection that every individual with an invention, an idea, or a trademark should seriously consider.

Patents Are For Inventions

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issues patents, the grant of property rights to an inventor. In general, a new patent has a term of 20 years from the date when its application for a patent was filed in the United States. In special cases, however, the term starts from the date an earlier related application was filed but the maintenance fees must be updated. Under certain circumstances, the patent holder can apply for patent term adjustments or extensions.


The patents filed with the USPTO are only effective within the United States as well as to its possessions and territories. Many, if not most, inventors then apply patents for their inventions in an international body to protect their inventions in certain jurisdictions.


The property rights conferred by a patent include “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the item covered in the United States, as well as from “importing” it into the United States. Keep in mind that what’s actually granted isn’t the right to make, use, sell, offer for sale, or import the item but the right to exclude others from doing so.


Trademarks Are for Words and Others

A trademark refers to a name, word, symbol or device used in trading products to indicate their source and to distinguish them from others. A servicemark is similar to a trademark but it’s used to distinguish the origin or source of a service, not a product. In most cases, a servicemark can also be called a trademark for convenience purposes.


Trademark rights can be used in preventing other individuals and organizations from the use of confusingly similar-looking or similar-sounding marks. But these aren’t intended to prevent others from manufacturing, selling and offering to sell the same products and/or services. For example, McDonald’s has a trademark so it has exclusive use to the brand and its related images but it doesn’t have the right to prevent KFC, Wendy’s and Five Guys to sell burgers, fries and shakes.


Copyrights Are for Original Works of Authorship

Copyrights are granted to authors or creators of “original works of authorship” that include but aren’t limited to literary, intellectual, musical, dramatic, and artistic works, both unpublished and published. Under the 1976 Copyright Act, the copyright owner has the exclusive right to his or her work, which can include reproduction of the copyrighted work, distribution of its copies, performance of the work in a public venue, preparation of derivative works, and display of the work publicly.


Which IP protection is right for you?

For details of the patent application or trademark registration, please contact us for free consultation.



CtR Intellectual Property Co.

Hong Kong Patent Application Grant Authorised Patent Agent

Offering Professional Patent and

Trademark Application & Related Services