Have you finally found the perfect name for your business, but you’re afraid someone will take it?
Did you just complete a rebrand with this great new logo, and you don’t want anyone to copy it?
Do you offer goods or services to your customers that are unique to you that you don’t want anyone else to lay claim to?
Register your trademark or service mark with the state.
According to the South Carolina Secretary of State’s website, ”A trademark or service mark is a word, name, symbol, or device or combination of these used by a person to identify and distinguish the goods or services of that person and to indicate the source of the goods or services. A mark can be registered with the Office of the Secretary of State provided the mark meets the statutory requirements for registration.”
So, how do you register your trademark or service mark? Start by visiting the Secretary of State’s website. From there, it’ll give you all of the information you’ll need, such as the application, application fee, instructions for registration of a trademark or service mark, and the difference between the two.
You’ll use this same application whether you’re registering a trademark or service mark and when it’s time to renew your trademark or service mark. However, if you’re currently trying to register both a trademark and service mark, it should be noted that separate applications are required for each. They also note that, “Trademarks and service marks offer the same level of protection; one is simply for goods and the other is for services.”
Sections 6 and 7 of the application instructions may explain it a bit better:
“(6) Actual goods or services with which the mark will be used. For example, if you are submitting an application for a logo that will be used on a line of clothing, you will state that the trademark will be used on “clothing.” If you are submitting an application for a service mark for a plumbing service, you will state that the “service is a plumbing service.”
(7) Mode or manner in which you will use the mark. If you are registering a trademark to be used on clothing, you may wish to state that the “mark will be directly applied to the goods,” or that it will be “used on tags or labels attached to the clothing.” If you are registering a service mark that is your business name, you may wish to state that the mark will be used for “letterhead, business cards, advertising, pens, or Website.” Because trademarks and service marks require separate applications, goods and services cannot be combined in answer to question (7). Goods and products are classed as trademarks; services offered are classed as service marks.”
The application must be filled out completely, signed, and notarized before submitting. Because the Secretary of State’s Office cannot offer legal advice, they recommend that you seek counsel from a licensed attorney if you have a legal question about the application or trademarks and service marks in general.
The site also gives you the option to search all trademarks and service marks that have been registered with the state of South Carolina, which we’d advise you check first to be sure that the mark is even available.
For more information and to complete the application, visit https://sos.sc.gov/services-and-filings/trademarks.