Trademark and Servicemarks - FAQ

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What is a trademark?

 

A trademark is a name, symbol, word, or combination of 2 or more of these that a person places on goods that the person sells or distributes, a container of the goods, a display associated with the goods, or a label or tag affixed to the goods, to identify those goods that the person makes or sells, and to distinguish them from goods that another person makes or sells.

Examples of trademarks: Hoover (vacuum cleaners); IBM (computers); Exxon (gasoline).​

What is a service mark?

 

A service mark is a name, symbol, word, or combination of 2 or more of these that a person displays or otherwise uses to advertise or sell services that the person performs to identify those services that the person performs and to distinguish them from services that another person performs. Examples of service marks: Merry Maids (a cleaning company), Stanley Steamer (an upholstery cleaning service) and Gold's Gym (fitness center).​

Are a trademark/service mark and a trade name the same things?

 

​​No. A trade name is a name, symbol, word, or combination of 2 or more of these that a person uses to identify the business or occupation of the person of the person, and to distinguish it from the business or occupation of another person.​

Where is a trade name registered?

 

​A trade name is registered with theDepartment of Assessments and Taxation, 301 W. Preston St., Baltimore, MD 21202. Phone (410) 767-1350.

A trade name that is also as a trademark or service mark may be registered as a trademark or service mark with the Secretary of State.​​

May a trademark or service mark be registered with the Secretary of State before it has actually been used in the sale of goods and services?

 

No. A trademark or service mark must be in commercial use before it may be registered with the Secretary of State.​

Is a person required to register a trademark or service mark the person uses in Maryland?

 

No. Registration of a trademark or service mark in Maryland is optional.​

What are the benefits of registering a trademark or service mark in use in Maryland?

 

The primary benefit of registering a trademark or service mark with the Secretary of State is to give public notice of a person's claim of ownership of the trademark or service mark. This will reduce the likelihood that another person will inadvertently choose a mark confusingly similar to the registered mark. A person can check on the availability of a mark for registration in Maryland by calling the Office of the Secretary of State, or by consulting the database at this Website. The Website is updated monthly.​

Does registration of a trade or service mark with the Secretary of State mean that I own the trademark or service mark?

 

No. Ownership of a trademark or service mark in Maryland is acquired by using the trademark or service mark in commerce.​

What office of the federal government serves as a registry for trademarks and service marks?

 

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) of the Department of Commerce. The phone number for that office is (800) 786-9199.​

What is the legal significance of federal registration as compared with state registration?

 

Information about the legal significance of federal registration can be obtained from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. If you believe this is an issue for you, you should also consult a private attorney.​

Does the State of Maryland register patents?

 

No. See the above phone number and Website for federal patent registration information.​

Will the Office of the Secretary of State take action against a person using a mark confusingly similar to a mark already registered to another?

 

No. The Office of the Secretary of State does not resolve conflicts regarding mark ownership. A person should consult private legal counsel if another has infringed on a mark owned by the person.​

Does the State of Maryland register copyrights?

 

​No. For information on federal copyright registration, contact the United States Copyright Office of the Library of Congress at (202) 707-3000.​

If the Secretary of State of Maryland registers a trademark or service mark, may the registrant use the ® designation with the mark?

 

No. This designation is reserved for trademarks and service marks registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. A person who claims ownership of a particular trademark or service mark may use the designation "TM" or "SM" regardless of whether the mark is registered with any office.​

How does a person apply to register a trademark or service mark?

 

To apply to register a trade or service mark, a person files:

  1. an application on a form prepared by the Secretary of State;
  2. three (3) specimens of the mark as used in commerce; and
  3. a fee of $50 (check made payable to the Secretary of State).
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What kind of specimens are acceptable for a trademark?

 

Labels, tags, containers, displays, and goods with trademark affixed. Photographs of specimens are acceptable, and particularly encouraged for specimens other than labels or tags.​

What kinds of specimens are acceptable for a service mark?

 

Advertisements, photographs of signs, leaflets, brochures, copies of a webpage.​

What kinds of specimens are never acceptable?

 

Business cards, stationery, or any rendering that does not show use in general commerce.​

Are 3 different types of specimens required?

 

No. The 3 specimens submitted may be identical.​

How does a person assign a trademark or service mark?

 

​To assign a trademark or service mark, the assignee must complete the assignment form and submit a $10 check or money order payable to the Secretary of State. Upon receipt of the assignment form, the Secretary of State will record the assignment and issue a new certificate of registration in the name of the assignee. The assigned mark's term of registration is the remainder of the original term of registration.​​

If an application for registration is approved, how long will the trademark or service mark be registered with the Secretary of State?

 

Ten (10) years.​

If an application for registration is not approved, will the application fee be refunded?

 

No. The fee is a non-refundable fee for processing the application.​

What kinds of marks may not be registered?

 

A person may not register a mark that:

  1. is deceptive, immoral, or scandalous;
  2. may disparage, falsely suggest a connection with, or bring into contempt or disrepute:
    1. a belief;
    2. an individual, living or dead;
    3. an institution; or
    4. a national symbol;
  3. is, simulates, or includes a coat of arms, flag, or other insignia of a government;
  4. is or includes the name, portrait, or signature of a living individual, except with the written consent of that individual;
  5. is likely, when, applied to the goods or services of the person, to confuse or deceive because the mark resembles:
    1. another mark registered in the State; or
    2. another mark or trade name that another person has used in the State and not abandoned; and,
  6. unless the mark has become distinctive of a person's goods or services, a person may not register a mark that:
    1. only describes or deceptively misdescribes goods or services;
    2. primarily describes or deceptively misdescribes the graphic origin of goods or services; or
    3. is primarily merely a surname.​

May an application cover more than one classification of goods or services?

 

No. A separate application must be filed for each classification of goods.​

May an application cover more than one type of goods or services?

 

Yes. An application may cover any number of types of goods or services that fall in the same classification.​

May an application include more than one trademark or service mark?

 

No. Each application may include only one trademark or one service mark. ​

Does the Secretary of State give notice when a mark's registration is due to expire?

 

Yes. Notice will be mailed within 1 year of the expiration date of a registration. To receive this notice, the owner of a registered trademark or service mark should notify the Secretary of State of any change of address.​

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