I have recently been looking into trademarking some custom t-shirt designs for both my own retail purposes as well as for other businesses that I currently design for. This is new territory for me and I have found it to be completely confusing and difficult! Not only does there appear to be no practicing Intellectual Property lawyers in Alaska, but the whole process itself also sounds intimidating. No wonder the United States Patent and Trademark Office recommends using a lawyer to get you through the process!
For anyone else who might be interested in trademarking a brand or slogan the best service I have found is The Trademark Attorneys. They will hold your hand through the process for $1,500.00 or you can fill in an online application and pay a reduced price of $770.00 ($445 in lawyer fees plus $325 per class of item).
There are still a lot of unanswered questions and in my quest to answer them I will be posting the answers to the blog. For instance, apparel appears to be one class of item, so what if I wanted to print on mugs, mouse pads, or tote bags? Does that mean I will have to pay an additional $325 for these classes of items? I hope not!
There is a lot of confusion in the differences between copyrights, trademarks, and even between trademarks (TM) and registered trademarks (®). A design is technically copyrighted as soon as it is designed, but anyone can take it and alter it to suit their own purposes. Registering the copyright can help if any future legal issues arise. Trademarks are used more for a word, symbol or name used to identify the source of a good, like the Nike “swoosh” or the Coca-Cola logo. It is this type of mark, a registered trademark, that I am seeking to establish a whole apparel brand that my husband and I can bring to market. As I said before, to help others on the same road I will be posting further updates of the process as we move forward with our designs and our ideas.
Until then we will be adding TM to our design to help establish our ownership of the original design, and to avoid legal issues of illegally using the registered trademark symbol ®!