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  • What is a trademark?

    A trademark is any word, phrase, symbol, device or combination thereof, that identifies and distinguishes the source of goods of one party from that of another.

    A Service Mark is the same as a trademark, except it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product. The services must be offered or provided to a party other than the applicant.

  • What is a service mark?

    A Service Mark is the same as a trademark, except it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product. The services must be offered or provided to a party other than the applicant.

    A trademark is any word, phrase, symbol, design or combination thereof, that identifies and distinguishes the source of goods of one party from that of another. The general terms "mark" and "trademark" may be used to describe both trademarks and service marks.

  • What is the difference between a patent, copyright and trademark?

    Patents protect inventions and improvements to inventions. Copyrights cover literary, artistic and musical works. Trademarks are brand names and/or designs that are applied to products or used in connection with services. Patents and copyrights are governed only by federal laws. For more information on patents and copyrights, visit www.uspto.gov.

  • What is the difference between a “business name” and a "trademark"?

    A business name is the name under which a business is registered with the Indiana Secretary of State. A trademark is used to identify goods or services a business provides and to set those goods or services apart from others.

  • What is an assumed name or d/b/a?

    When a business, registered with the Indiana Secretary of State, uses a name other than its legal name, the business is required to file an assumed name with the Indiana Secretary of State. An assumed name is commonly referred to as a “d/b/a”.

  • Can I reserve a trademark?

    No. The mark must be in use in the normal course of commerce in the State of Indiana prior to registration. The Secretary of State's office requires proof that the mark is in use. There is no minimum time period of use that is required prior to applying.

  • How are trademark rights acquired?

    Trademark rights are not acquired through the registration process; common-law rights are acquired through actual use in commerce of the mark.

    Trademark rights in the United States are typically established by proper use of a mark. These rights can be enhanced by seeking trademark registrations through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or through a Secretary of State’s office. The details for trademark protection and how to achieve it are best discussed with a trademark lawyer.

  • What is the advantage of registration?

    It is important to understand that registration does not establish rights. Trademark rights in the United States are typically established by proper use of a mark. These rights can be enhanced by seeking trademark registrations through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or through a Secretary of State’s office. The details for trademark protection and how to achieve it are best discussed with a trademark lawyer.

    There are two main benefits of registration: Primarily, registration provides conclusive notice throughout the state regarding your claim to ownership of the mark. This benefits both the owner seeking exclusive use of a mark and a trademark user who seeks to ensure that his or her mark does not conflict with a mark already in use. Secondly, registration may provide the trademark owner with procedural advantages should it become necessary to judicially enforce trademark rights. For more information regarding enforcement of trademark rights, you should consult legal counsel.

  • Does the Secretary of State enforce trademark rights?

    No. The Secretary of State's office is responsible only for registration and maintenance of records regarding marks registered in this state. Enforcement claims would either be handled by legal counsel or determined by filing a civil action in an Indiana Court. If you have questions regarding rights, protection or infringement, you should consult legal counsel.

  • Does the Secretary of State register patents and copyrights?

    No. Patents and copyrights are registered federally. For more information regarding patents and copyrights, please contact the United States Patent and Trademark Office, www.uspto.gov.

  • Does registration with the Indiana Secretary of State protect my mark in other states?

    No. Registration of a mark in this office applies only to Indiana. This office does not cross-reference marks registered in other states or marks registered at the federal level. It is the applicant’s responsibility to determine if a mark is already filed in other states or at the federal level. Failure to do so may result in a civil action against you. The acceptance of a trademark registration by the Indiana Secretary of State will notestablish rights to a mark.

  • Can I register my mark federally?

    For information regarding federal trademark registrations, contact the United States Patent and Trademark Office at www.uspto.gov or by mail at Commission of Patents and Trademarks, Alexandria, VA 22313.

  • Can I use the symbols "tm" or "sm" once I obtain a state registration?

    These symbols, which represent "trademark" and "service mark," respectively, are not used to indicate state registrations; use of these symbols indicate a claim to rights to the mark associated with the use of the symbol. There is no symbol that denotes a state registration. The symbol “(R)” can be applied only to federally registered marks.

  • How can I transfer ownership of a registered mark?

    Transfer of ownership of a registered mark is called assignment. You may file an assignment online on INBiz. As of July 1, 2018, all trademark filings are required to be submitted online.

  • Who can apply for a trademark?

    Any entity (individual, corporation, partnership or other legal entity) can apply to register a trademark. The application may be signed by an authorized agent of the entity listed as the applicant. As of July 1, 2018, all trademark filings are required to be submitted online on INBiz.

  • Can the Secretary of State's office refuse to register a mark?

    Yes. Not all words, names, symbols or devices function as trademarks, and this office will refuse to register matter if it does not. For example, matter that is merely the generic name of the goods on which it is used or is merely descriptive of services in connection with which it is used cannot be registered.

  • How do I apply for registration?

    You may file your trademark registration on INBiz. As of July 1, 2018, all trademark filings are required to be submitted online. You must completely and correctly fill out the online application, attach one specimen showing actual use of the mark, and one drawing specimen showing only the design elements of the mark if a design is included as part of the trademark and pay a nonrefundable fee of $10.00 per application.

  • What does "in use" or "used in commerce" mean?

    A mark is considered to be in use on or in connection with a good if the mark is placed in any manner on the good, a container for the good, a display associated with the good, or a tag or label affixed to the good and is sold or transported in Indiana.

    A mark is considered to be in use on or in connection with a service if the mark is used or displayed in the sale or advertising of the service and the service is rendered in Indiana.

  • Can I check for availability of my mark before I apply?

    Yes. It is essential that you search the USPTO and state trademark databases in addition to researching current use prior to applying for a trademark.

    When applying for a trademark, you are required to sign under penalties of perjury that another person has not registered the mark, either federally or in Indiana and that another person does not have the right to use the mark either in the identical form or in such near resemblance to cause deception, confusion or mistake if applied to the goods or services of the other person.

    Visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s website at uspto.gov.

  • Will the Secretary of State's office check federal availability of a mark?

    No. This office does not cross reference federal registrations. You should check federal availability of a mark at uspto.gov to avoid civil litigation for trademark infringement. Bear in mind that an Indiana complainant may recover treble damages or profits (3 times the damage or profit amount) and attorney’s fees. The details for trademark protection and how to achieve it are best discussed with a trademark lawyer.

  • What are "specimens"?

    A specimen is an actual example of the use in trade of the mark; it is the means by which the public would view your mark and be aware of the goods or services offered.

  • What can I send as a specimen if the mark has not yet been used?

    The mark must be in use prior to registration.

  • How many specimens am I required to submit?

    You are required to attach one specimen of use and one drawing specimen with each mark application.

  • What is the difference between a specimen of use and a drawing specimen?

    A specimen of use must show the mark on or in association with the sale or advertising of the goods or services. The specimen of use serves as evidence that the mark is in use in the normal course of commerce in Indiana.

    A drawing specimen serves only to indicate those elements of the mark claimed by the applicant. The drawing should show the mark as a whole exactly as described on the application.

  • What is a disclaimer?

    A disclaimer is a statement that the applicant or registrant does not claim the exclusive right to use a specified element or elements of a mark. Generally, elements that are descriptive or generic when used on or in connection with the goods or services would be disclaimed.

    The purpose of a disclaimer is to permit registration of a mark that is eligible to be registered as a whole but contains matter that would not be eligible to be registered standing alone. As used in trademark registrations, a disclaimer of a descriptive component of a composite mark amounts to a statement that, insofar as the particular registration is concerned, no rights are being asserted in the disclaimed component standing alone, but rights are asserted in the composite, and the particular registration represents only such rights as flow from use of the composite mark.

  • Can I apply to register multiple marks on one application?

    No. A single application may be used to register only one mark, with no variations.

  • Can I apply for more than one classification?

    No. Indiana limits the trademark application to one class per registration. If the trademark requires multiple class codes, multiple registrations are required.

  • Can I fax my application?

    No. As of July 1, 2018, all trademark filings are required to be submitted online on INBiz.

  • Can I expedite the processing of my application?

    No. Applications are processed in the order in which they are received in this office.

  • How long does it take to obtain a state registration?

    If approved, applications are effective on the date they are received. The examination process takes an average of 5 to 10 business days.

  • How long is the registration period?

    Registrations are valid for five years and can be renewed no sooner than six months prior to expiration. This office will send a renewal notice to the last known email address of the applicant approximately six months prior to the expiration date.

  • What is required for renewal of a registration?

    To renew your registration, submit an online renewal application from INBiz.in.gov, along with a nonrefundable fee of $10.00 and one specimen showing continued use of the mark.

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