How to Get a US Trademark For Your Foreign Business

The United States is the world's largest economy, home to diverse brands and products. If you aim to break into such a saturated market, especially as a foreign business, you’ll need to establish a striking, reputable brand—something you can show consumers with a registered trademark.  

What US Trademark Law Protects  

By registering your brand name, logo, and word mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), you expose them to the buying public and strengthen your brand recognition. Other benefits include:  

  • The exclusive right to use the trademark in US markets  
  • The right to monetize your mark by way of licensing or sale
  • The ability to combat trademark infringement in federal court  
  • The ability to use your US trademark as a basis for foreign trademark filings  
  • The right to prevent infringing goods from entering and being sold in the US  

A US trademark is valid for up to 10 years after initial registration. To maintain this registration, you will have to file a document declaring the use (or non-use) of your mark in commerce between the 5th and 6th years after the registration date. After the first 10 years are up, your registration may be renewed indefinitely as long as the mark remains in use.

If you fail to use your registered mark in commerce for three consecutive years, you may lose your trademark rights.  

Can a Foreign Company Register a Trademark in the US?  

If you want to register a trademark for your business, the USPTO requires that foreign-domiciled applicants be represented by a US-licensed attorney. This may seem like an unnecessary hurdle, but it actually has a purpose: to ensure that applicants understand their rights and responsibilities under US law when they are filing for a trademark. 

You can get this representation by hiring an international trademark service to prepare and file your application on your behalf.

If you’ve already registered your trademark in your country, you can base your US trademark application on that foreign registration. This may speed up the application process and increase your chances of approval.

You can also get your brand registered in the United States even if you haven't yet registered it in your home country. You'll just need to run a US trademark search before proceeding so that you can make sure no one else has claimed ownership of your brand name or logo. If there are other marks very similar to yours, you may need to tweak your branding before you proceed with your application.

Digip customers often start with a trademark application in the United Kingdom or the European Union. Then, the registration is extended into the United States and registered with the USPTO.

If your brand is ready to take on the world, it's time to get a US trademark.

Applying for a Trademark Through the USPTO

Once you’ve settled on the perfect mark for your business, you can file your application paperwork.  

In order to be registrable, the product or service connected with your mark must fall under at least one of the 45 US trademark classes, which are used to distinguish your use of trademark from other traders in other industries. You can find a full list of trademark classes here.

Your application must also be submitted on the correct filing basis, either “use-in-commerce" or “intent-to-use.”  

The use-in-commerce application is applicable for marks that are being used alongside goods or services already on the market. This type of application must be accompanied by a valid specimen of use, like a product label or packaging. Evidence of actual use in commerce can include:  

  • Printed material   
  • Advertising/promotional materials
  • Samples showing the distribution channels used, including social media or online platforms like Amazon
  • Goods sold online, retail or wholesale or retail with attached receipts and invoices  

If you haven't used your trademark in the United States but have a bona fide intent to do so, you can file an intent-to-use trademark application. If applying on this basis, you must prove your intent to use the mark in commerce within six months. You’ll also need to provide an accurate description of the goods or services the mark will be connected with.  

An incorrectly filed trademark application may result in substantial delays or rejection. To avoid any mishaps, you may want to consult a trademark expert for assistance with your trademark search, filing, and protection against infringement.  

What to Expect When You File

Once the USPTO has received your application, it will be reviewed for compliance, which can take anywhere from 4-6 months. If your mark fails to meet even one of the established criteria, the trademark office may bring an office action against your application and pause processing until all issues have been addressed.   

If all issues have been resolved, your mark will be published for opposition in the USPTO’s official trademark bulletin.  

Make sure to check your USPTO trademark status at least once every six months until your registration is approved. If you miss a payment deadline or key update regarding your application, you may be denied relief in later stages of the application process. This includes requests for extensions or chances to appeal.  

Other trademark owners will have 30 days to review your mark. During this time, they may file an opposition against your mark if it conflicts with one of their own trademarks.    

If no claims are filed by the end of the opposition period, the USPTO will register your trademark. Soon after, you will be issued a trademark registration certificate. The entire application process can take about 12-18 months if no issues arise.   

How Much Does a US Trademark Cost?

The USPTO offers two electronic trademark filing options: TEAS Plus and TEAS Standard.   

The TEAS Plus option asks for all of your requirements upfront, and costs less per class. The TEAS Standard option allows you to complete your requirement submissions throughout the application process, and comes with a higher trademark fee per class.   

USPTO Trademark Fees and Payment Schedule

You can only file for one mark and one trademark class per application. If you’d like to register your brand name and logo at the same time, you’ll have to file separate applications for each, and pay two filing fees. If your brand falls under two trademark classes, you will have to pay another two filing fees to register each of your marks under the second class.  

Keep in mind that these are basic fees, and the amount may increase based on the complexity of your application. For example, intent-to-use applications come with additional base fees.   

All fees must be paid in US dollars, and are generally non-refundable.  

Protect Your Brand in the United States  

Start your business expansion into the US by registering your brand’s trademarks. This is a great way to build credibility and brand value among consumers over time.   

Do you have any more questions about the US trademark registration process? Digip has extensive experience helping foreign companies secure a US trademark, with a 95% success rate. For personalized recommendations from trademark experts, book a free consultation with us. 

Secure your US trademark todayContact a trademark adviser