How to Trademark an Artist Name
How to Trademark an Artist Name is part of our How to Trademark series. We also cover how to copyright a stage name.
Trademarking an artist or stage name is an important legal protection for artists in a variety of fields. Whether you are an actor, singer, musician, painter, sculptor, writer, or another type of artist, a trademark can help protect your name – and your work – from misuse and infringement. Generally you cannot copyright an artist or stage name so we discuss how to trademark a stage name.
The below are the basic steps to trademark an artist or stage name. The most effective way to ensure that you are able to obtain your trademark as quickly as possible is to work with an experienced trademark attorney from the start. This is especially true for a trademark search. To learn more or to retain us to help, please contact us today.
Filing a Trademark Application for an Artist Name
1. Select your name
Selecting a name is more difficult than you might think. Many artists simply want to use their own name, or an artist or stage name they have already created. But these names are not always available. Your artist name cannot be a name that is already a trademark registered to someone else. It also cannot be so close to a registered trademark that the two are likely to be confused with one another.
2. Conduct a Trademark Search
The first step in acquiring trademark rights is to do a trademark search. During the application process, a USPTO attorney will search your chosen artist name to ensure that it is not already registered as a trademark to someone else. This search does not only look for the exact same name. It also looks for similar names, spellings, and other trademarks that may be confused with yours. If any of these exist, your application may get a likelihood of confusion refusal.
The Trademark Electronic Search System is a database maintained by the USPTO. It is a good starting point for your search, where you can see if your artist name is already a registered trademark. Your application can still be denied based on names that you didn’t find in the TESS database. This is why it is also important to know how to conduct a thorough search within TESS and how to interpret the results you find. Remember, names with similar sounds, mis-spellings and trademarks with similar commercial impressions can result in a denial based upon a likelihood of confusion.
Due to common law rights, you should also search business names and search the internet to find similar unregistered uses. You will expose yourself to a claim of trademark infringement if someone has used a similar artist name prior to you even if they have not filed a trademark application.
The best way to conduct a trademark search is with the assistance of an experienced trademark lawyer. Trademark lawyers conduct many trademark searches. We know where to look to fully investigate any possible uses of your artist name. We also know how to interpret search results.
3. Identify the Goods and Services and Filing Basis
When you file a trademark application, you must identify all goods and services that you intend to be connected with your stage name. Goods might include recorded performances, live entertainment services, paintings, sculptures, books, and other physical works of art. You should carefully consider all possible goods and services you will use before filing your trademark application.
If you are already offering the goods or services, you can file an on actual use basis. If you file an application on the basis that you are already using the trademark, proof of use will be included when you file the application.
A trademark application can also be filed on an intent to use basis if you have a bona fide intent to use the trademark. If you file on the basis of an intent to use, you will eventually have to file a statement of use during the application process to prove that you have started to use the trademark. You will have six months to file a Statement of Use. If you are not ready to file a statement of use you can request a 6 month extension. An Examining Attorney will review your Statement of Use to ensure that all legal requirements for using your trademark have been met.
4. File the Application
When filing the application you will have to identify basic information like the trademark and the owner and address in addition to the goods and services and filing basis as mentioned above. Errors in the application can result in it being denied without a refund of your application fee. While applicants who are domiciled in the United States are not required to have an attorney, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office strongly encourages applicant’s to hire a trademark attorney to handle the process. This can save you time and money while improving the legal protections you have for your artist name.
5. Respond to any objections raised by the USPTO Examining Attorney
Once your application is received by the Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), it will be assigned a serial number. This allows you to track your application progress through the Trademark Status and Document Retrieval (TSDR) system. After filing your trademark application will be reviewed by an Examining Attorney. The Examining Attorney will check the application for errors and legal problems. He or she will also search for conflicting trademarks. If any issues exist you will receive an office action and you will have six months to make any available corrections. Applications that are not corrected within six months will abandon.
6. Approval and Registration
When a trademark office Examining Attorney approves your application, it will then be approved for publication in the Official Gazette. This is a weekly publication of the USPTO. It provides legal notice of your intent to trademark your artist name. This allows anyone with legal grounds for objecting to your trademark to file a trademark opposition with the TTAB.
After your name is published for opposition in the Official Gazette without objections, you will receive a Notice of Allowance if you filed on an intent to use basis. If you filed on an actual use basis, your trademark will register.
Other Artist and Stage Name Considerations
After filing a trademark application for your artist name, other considerations include:
The USPTO has jurisdiction in the United States, and federal law does not extend to other countries. For this reason, you will generally not be able to enforce an American trademark against unauthorized usage in other countries. If you plan to do work outside the United States, you should file in that country as well. Many countries are members of the Madrid Protocol which has streamlined the process of filing internationally.
Maintaining and Enforcing Your Artist Name Trademark
In order to keep your registration active, you must file trademark renewals with the USPTO. You can check the status of your maintenance documents through the TSDR system. It is important to stay current with all filing requirements so that your trademark does not lapse.
Filing an application is not the only thing you need to do to protect your trademark. The USPTO is tasked with registering trademarks – not enforcing them. Trademark owners have a continuing duty to police their trademarks from unauthorized use. You should continually be on the lookout for unauthorized uses of your stage name and be ready to take legal action against those who are infringing on your trademark. The first step in handling infringements is usually to have us send a trademark cease and desist letter.
For assistance with filing a trademark application for an artist or stage name, please contact us.