If you are a member of the William & Mary community and are interested in filing a new trademark with the USPTO, with a William & Mary entity as the owner, there are a few things you should know first.
A Trademark Disclosure Form is required and will be reviewed by the Visual Identity Committee and University Counsel. This form requires some basic information about the trademark and its intended use and acts as the first step for acquiring a new trademark with the USPTO.
Trademark vs. Copyright
A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. A service mark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than goods. Think brand names, slogans, and logos. The term "trademark" is often used to refer to both trademarks and service marks. Unlike patents and copyrights, trademarks do not expire after a set term of years. Instead, a trademark can last forever, so long as the owner continues to use the mark in commerce to indicate the source of goods and services.
A copyright protects works of authorship that have been tangibly expressed in a physical form. Think songs, books, movies, and works of art. The duration of copyright protection depends on several factors. For works created by an individual, protection lasts for the life of the author, plus 70 years. For works created anonymously, pseudonymously, and for hire, protection lasts 95 years from the date of publication or 120 years from the date of creation, whichever is shorter.
Are you eligible to file under the "Intent to Use" basis?
If you have not yet used your mark, but intend to use it in the future, you must file under the "intent to use" basis. This means you have a bona fide intent to use the mark in commerce; that is, you have more than just an idea but are less than market ready (for example, having a business plan, creating samples products, or performing other initial business activities). An "intent to use" basis requires filing an additional form and fee prior to registration that are not required if you file under "use in commerce" at the outset. Use is established by providing the date of first use of the mark anywhere and the date of first use of the mark in commerce, as well as submitting a specimen (example) showing how you use the mark in commerce.