The most common types of mistakes in trademark applications generally fall into 2 categories: fixable and non-fixable. Fixable mistakes can usually be corrected quickly with an amendment to your application. Non-fixable mistakes, you guessed it, cannot be fixed and you'll need to re-file your entire trademark application!
Here are some **fixable** trademark application mistakes:
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| **"My trademark is too descriptive"** | If your trademark is simply a straightforward description of your goods or services, it's unlikely to be approved for registration. For instance: "Fresh" for fruit, "Extra Soft" for towels, "Rich" for coffee, "Juicy" for oranges, "Healthy" for granola bars.
These trademarks are considered to be merely descriptive because they describe basic qualities of the respective goods or services. To get these types of trademarks registered on the Principal Register, you need to prove they've gained distinctiveness through usage. Otherwise, you may be able to register them on the Supplemental Register. |
| **"My trademark contains someone's name, but I don't have their permission to use it."** | If your trademark features the name, portrait, or signature of a living person, you must have their written permission to use and register it. Otherwise, your application for trademark registration will be denied. To avoid this, make sure to include the individual's written consent in your application. |
| **"My trademark is only a surname."** | Trying to trademark your surname on its own is a no-go unless you have extra proof. There are plenty of people with the same surname, so it's not enough to just claim it as your own. You need to show that the public associates your surname with your specific goods or services.
For example, if your last name is Smith and you run an online store called "Smith's Gadget Emporium," you won't be able to trademark "Smith" for your retail services unless it's already associated with your brand in the minds of consumers.
But there are exceptions. Some famous examples of surnames that have been trademarked include "Ford" for cars (owned by Ford Motor Company) and "McDonald's" for restaurants (owned by McDonald's Corporation).
Keep in mind, trademarks consisting of only a surname can't be registered on the Principal Register unless there's evidence of acquired distinctiveness. They may be eligible for the Supplemental Register though. |
| **"My specimen is wrong or doesn't show use as a trademark."** | Your trademark game better be on point, because your specimen has got to show how you're actually using it in the real world. No cheating with fake images or just submitting a drawing, your specimen has got to be the real deal. If it doesn't measure up, your registration will be denied.
And just so you know, if your specimen doesn't show that your trademark is actually functioning as one, then it's not going to fly either. Like if it's just a name or title of a creative work or a character from a book. The trademark has to be the identifier of your goods or services, not just a decoration or identifier of a single creative work. |
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Here are some **non-fixable** trademark application mistakes:
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| **"I listed the wrong party as the trademark owner."** | When you're registering your trademark, it's crucial to correctly identify the legal name and entity type of the trademark owner in your application. This could be an individual, sole proprietorship, corporation, partnership, LLC, or another type of entity. While you don't have to personally fill out the app, the owner must be accurately listed from the get-go.For instance, let's say you and a business partner co-own a dope woodworking shop and want to register a trademark for it. But in the application, you accidentally list yourself as the sole owner. Bummer, your application will be rejected because you don't hold all the ownership cards. To avoid this, make sure to list both you and your partner as joint owners in the application.Keep in mind, if you make a mistake with the ownership listing, you can't just add your partner's name later or assign joint ownership - you'll need to start fresh with a new application that properly identifies both of you as the trademark owners. |
| **"I incorrectly identified my goods and services."** | When filing your trademark application, make sure you're super clear about the goods or services you're using, or plan to use, with your trademark. You want to be precise about what you're actually offering under your trademark, not just how you're using it.For example, let's say you own a fireworks shop and you're registering a trademark for your fireworks. If you mistakenly list "packaging" as your goods because that's where your trademark appears, that's not quite right. Your application might be denied because you're actually selling the fireworks, not the labels. So make sure you're accurately identifying what you're actually offering to the public. |
| **"My trademark conflicts with an already-registered or applied-for mark."** | If your trademark is too similar to an already registered or pending one, it could spell trouble. Confusingly similar trademarks don't have to be identical - they can look similar, sound similar, or have similar meanings. And the goods or services don't have to be the exact same, as long as they're related.Be sure to use our free trademark search to see if there are any conflicting trademarks that could stand in the way of your application. |
| **"My trademark is generic."** | If your trademark is too generic, it's just a regular, run-of-the-mill term for your goods or services. Terms like "Mobile App Store," "Computer," or "100% Cotton Tee" can't be registered as trademarks for those specific things, since everyone has the right to use those common terms for these common items. |
| **"My trademark is a commonly-used phrase."** | Your trademark application is likely to be denied if the phrase or slogan you've chosen is part of common language or conveys a universal idea or emotion. That's because trademarks are meant to identify the source of goods or services. Phrases that are widely used and well known don't serve this purpose - they simply convey a common message or feeling.Examples of phrases that are too commonly used to function as trademarks include "Made in the USA," "I ♥ NY," "Best Quality," "Always Fresh," "No. 1 in Service." |