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I had a question about trademarks. I would like to start promoting my new t-shirt clothing line. I have my EIN number, business license and all of that good stuff. I am ready to put my product out there, but do you think it is ok to start everything without a trademark? I have been using the TM symbol for now. I am going to get the trademark in the future but i am not able to do so right now. I have noticed that some major clothing lines such as FUBU did not get a trademark right away. What is your outlook on this?
 

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Good question. Common, but still good. I believe the majority of the answers will be you do not need to get a TM right away and while I agree with that- I do believe there are some exceptions. For this reason I have chosen to TM most of my lines from the beginning (expecting to launch soon!)

The story that convinced me to do so was that of "WWJD".. the original aurthor didn't TM it in the early 90's and then a big corp starting making millions off it. I believe she finally won her TM case sometime in the 2000's but she didn't get very much ($10k is what I was told).

For me the distinction is how "rare" the potential item is. The more "rare" it is, the less, I believe, it needs to be TM'd right away. The more "common" the potential phrase, slogan etc the more I'd encourage someone to TM. I realize that might be backwards thinking but I believe it will be easier to prove you came up with "Pink elephants jump high" than it would be to prove you came up with "Life is Good".
 
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I know plenty of people who start a line without a TM or even starting the process to TM. They want to see if it works first before sinking $ into it. This is a mistake to me. If you only had one or two designs then you just copyright protect them. Actually they are supposed to be truly protected at creation but you still need to prove it.

If you have a true "line" such as 4-8 designs with a recurring theme, then you have a line to protect. Just starting the TM process will be beneficial and not as costly up front. I think you have to pay in stages. Maybe 4-5 stages. Each as a cost. It it a long process to TM something. That is why you see so many TM's instead of a circle R. A circle R is an actual Trade Mark that has been passed and is now Registered. At least if you start it, then you are far more protected than had you not started.
 

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I am ready to put my product out there, but do you think it is ok to start everything without a trademark?
It is not legally required that you register a trademark before promoting and selling your product. So it is definitely ok to start everything without a trademark.

I am going to get the trademark in the future but i am not able to do so right now.
This pretty much answers your question. A trademark is just one of many things you will need to do as you operate your business. So make a priority list and stick to it. The most important thing for a startup business is cash flow. Trademarks won't make you money. Selling shirts will. So if you are on a limited budget, it's a good idea to focus on production and marketing first. Then you can trademark later on.
 

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If you have a true "line" such as 4-8 designs with a recurring theme, then you have a line to protect.
A "line" cannot be protected as intellectual property. Designs can be copyrighted. Brand names and logos can be trademarked. But they are different processes. The entire product line as a whole cannot be protected under one copyright or trademark submission.

Just starting the TM process will be beneficial and not as costly up front. I think you have to pay in stages. Maybe 4-5 stages. Each as a cost.
Perhaps there are some IP attorneys or legal services that operate this way. But not when submitting a trademark application with the USPTO. The application fee needs to be paid in full at the time of submission. If the application is a "intent to use," then there will be an additional fee when submitting the "statement of use."

At least if you start it, then you are far more protected than had you not started.
This really isn't true. "First use in commerce" is what is used to determine primary ownership of a mark. Submitting a trademark application doesn't add any more protection than you would have with common law rights. It just shows that the process has begun to register the mark. As long as someone is using the mark, they have rights.
 

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also, and correct me if i'm wrong on this, tim, but the industry you want to use the name for matters as long as there is no confusion. like otis is the name of an elevator company, but if you wanted to call your cattle feed company otis, there's no issue there.
 

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also, and correct me if i'm wrong on this, tim, but the industry you want to use the name for matters as long as there is no confusion. like otis is the name of an elevator company, but if you wanted to call your cattle feed company otis, there's no issue there.
I'm not Tim, but yes that is correct.
 

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how much does it cost to TM? anyone got a site dat does it for cheap through online?
The cheapest way to trademark is directly through the USPTO website (United States Patent and Trademark Office). It costs $325 to file the application online. If you can use the PLUS application, it is $275. Depending on your application, you may also need to file a "statement of use," which costs an additional $100.

Beware of any website offering cheaper trademark services. They are likely a scam. They take your money and don't submit your application to the USPTO for federal registration.
 

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Also after u file you will get bombarded with additional services and fees that appear to be legitimate but they are nothing more than companies trying to take advantage of your ignorance about how the process evolves. They have "official government" sounding names and websites. It's so bad the trademark office warns you it will happen after u place ur order.
 
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