Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Get answers to common questions and more specific situations about all kinds of businesses.

Do I need a trademark, copyright, or patent?

See below for definitions and more information:


A trademark (sometimes referred to as a brand name or logo) is a word, name, symbol, phrase, slogan, or any combination thereof, used by a manufacturer or merchant to identify its goods or services and distinguish their source or origin throughout New Jersey. They may also be used to prevent others from using the same or a similar mark in the State.

Trademark rights are derived from use of a mark, and mark owners may claim common law trademark rights from the time a mark is first used However, common law rights only give the owner of the mark limited protection. A trademark owner may use a TM or SM symbol with their mark to indicate that they are claiming rights to it.

A trademark owner, who is using or has an intent to use his trademark in commerce that the United States Government regulates, such as interstate commerce or commerce with a foreign entity, may file an application for federal registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Federal registration of trademarks is not a requirement; however, it is highly advisable since federal registration provides the owner with distinct advantages over owners of unregistered marks.

Registration serve as prima facie evidence of ownership, provide businesses or individuals the right to use or license their trademarks, allow trademark owners the right to sue for trademark infringement in the federal courts and allow owners to apply for trademarks in other countries based upon their U. S. registration.

The ® symbol may only be used if the USPTO has issued a federal registration.

If an individual plans to file a trademark application, they or their representative should conduct a search of pending and registered trademarks to make sure that the mark is not already the subject of an application or registration. Users may search the trademark database at

To file an application for federal registration, the trademark owner should visit the USPTO Web site at Owners may complete and file their trademark applications online using the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS).

After a trademark application is filed, it is reviewed by a trademark-examining attorney to determine if the mark may be registered. The examining attorney will perform a search to determine whether the applicant’s mark is likely to cause confusion with other marks already protected by federal registration.

If a proposed mark passes the examination phase, it will be published in the Trademark Official Gazette (TMOG). Those who believe they will be damaged by registration of the mark then have an opportunity to oppose the registration. If no opposition is filed, then a registration certificate is issued.

In all, the registration procedure typically takes up to or over a year.

To maintain registration of your trademark, you must periodically file certain forms with the USPTO. Filing these forms correctly and on time can extend your trademark protections indefinitely, but failure to do so will result in the cancellation of your trademark. Detailed information on the maintenance of federal trademark registrations may be found at

For additional information on the trademark registration process, contact the USPTO’s Trademark Assistance Center (TAC).



Toll-free: 800-786-9199 (option 1)

Local: 571-272-9250 (press 0)

International: 1-571-272-9250 (press 0)

Trademarks can be registered online at:

Trademarks at the State Level

Separate from the federal trademark registration process, it is possible to register a trademark or service mark with the State of New Jersey. To do this, you must submit Form TMSM-01 to the Division of Revenue. There is a $50 filing fee, with additional fees for expedited service.

Form TMSM-01 may be found on the division’s website at

Once the form is filled out, mail it to the Division by regular mail at:

New Jersey Division of Revenue

Trade/Service Mark Unit

PO Box 453

Trenton, NJ 08646-0453

Additional information on state trademark registration can be found at


Copyright is a form of protection provided to authors of “original works of authorship,” including original literary, dramatic, musical, artistic and certain other intellectual works, both published and unpublished.

The United States Copyright Office, a division of the Library of Congress, is responsible for the administration of federal copyright protection. Information on copyrights and applications for filing for copyright protection may be obtained from the United States Copyright Office.

Phone numbers for the Copyright Office:

(202) 707–3000

1 (877) 476–0778 (toll free)

Web address for the Copyright Office is:

General mailing address:

U.S. Copyright Office

101 Independence Avenue, S.E.

Washington, DC 20559-6000


A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). A patent gives the inventor the right to exclude others from making, using, or selling his invention within the United States, its territories and possessions for a limited amount of time.

Generally, the term of a new patent is 20 years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States, or in special cases, from the date an earlier related application was filed.

There are three kinds of patents: (1) utility patents, granted to the inventor or discoverer of any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof; (2) plant patents, granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant; and (3) design patents, granted to anyone who invents a new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.

General and specific information on patents may be obtained by visiting the USPTO Website at

The USPTO strongly advises inventors to consult a patent attorney before attempting to file an application. The USPTO maintains a database of patent attorneys and agents who are licensed to practice before the USPTO. The database can be accessed at this web address:

If an individual plans to file a patent application, they or their representative should conduct a search of patents previously granted to make sure that the idea has not already been patented. Tools for conducting such a search can be found on the USPTO’s website:

Persons wishing to file a patent application may do so online using the Electronic Filing System (EFS) at

After a patent application is filed with the USPTO, the application will be assigned to a patent examiner. The examiners, who are experts in various fields of technology, will research previous patents and technical literature to determine whether a patent should be granted. The patent application and issuance procedure normally takes about 25 months, but can vary widely from case to case.

For additional information on the patent process, call the USPTO’s Inventors Assistance Center at:

Toll-Free: 800-786-9199

Local: 571-272-1000

TTY: 800-877-8339

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