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Registering a Trade Dress

How to Begin the Process

Trade dress is the unique design of the packaging that is used on your business products. This is intellectually property‚ which can be federally registered the same as a patent or a trademark. To federally register your trade dress‚ and protect it against dilution or infringement‚ you can submit your application with the United States Patent and Trademark office (USPTO).

To register your trade dress‚ you can submit your application electronically with USPTO's Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS). This can be done remotely via the USPTO website. If your trade dress application is accepted by the USPTO‚ you should receive a response within 3 months from the date of application.

However‚ depending on legal issues that may arise during the application process‚ it may take anywhere from 1 year to several years to federally register a trade dress. Issues that may arise include: 

  • that the proposed trade dress contains an immoral‚ deceptive‚ or scandalous design; or
  • that the proposed trade dress resembles a trade dress that is already registered by the USPTO‚ and therefore is likely to cause confusion or deception. 

Therefore‚ before you register your trade dress with the USPTO‚ you should consult with an attorney to review your trade dress design‚ and conduct a search of trade dresses that have already been federally registered. This can help you avoid making costly trade dress mistakes.

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By Charles Internicola November 24, 2010

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