A trademark is any word, name, symbol, device, or combination thereof that identifies goods made, sold, or services rendered. The golden arches of the McDonald’s M, Apple’s Macintosh with a bite taken out of it, and Coca-Cola’s cursive writing are all famous trademarks. Each of these is trademarked at the federal level, as well as across multiple countries, but what about local Colorado businesses that want to protect their brand?
You are able to establish a trademark at the state level, so those whose business only operates in Colorado can focus their attention here, which is what we’ll be doing as we explore how trademarks work in Colorado.
To do so, we are going to first look at how trademarks function in Colorado. From there, we’ll discuss the many different classes of goods that you can trademark. Finally, we will explore how you can make changes to your Colorado trademark should the need arise.
How Do Trademarks Work in Colorado?
As mentioned above, a trademark is a word, name, phrase, logo, or symbol that is used to let people identify and separate your goods and services from your competitors. It does it by first protecting your brand from being stolen and then by blocking others from creating something that is too similar to yours.
To the first point, let’s look at McDonald’s golden arches again. A famous symbol, everybody that sees those arches knows they can stop and get a tasty burger there. As a protected trademark, those golden arches can only belong to McDonald’s; you’re not going to see a Burger King use that symbol because it is protected through a trademark.
But Burger King could try to create its own version of the golden arches. Only they likely won’t be golden or be arches. That’s because the trademark that McDonald’s has prevents others from making something that is going to cause confusion for the same goods or services. A dry cleaner might be able to use a closer variation, however, since it’s hard to confuse a dry cleaning business and a McDonald’s.
A trademark can be registered both locally and federally. If you are only operating your business in Colorado then you would only need to register locally on the state level. If, however, you decide to branch out and expand your business into other states then you would want to register on the federal level. Our focus today is on the local, Colorado, level.
When you register a trademark in Colorado it is valid for five years and it can be renewed for another five years, so long as those trademarked elements are still being used. So if you registered a logo that you phased out in year four, then you wouldn’t be able to renew it since it was no longer being used. In contrast, federal trademarks are registered for ten years at a time.
The steps you take to file a trademark in Colorado depends on whether or not the trademark has an existing business record or not. Either way, filing a trademark is done through a Statement of Registration of Trademark. These are now primarily done electronically, though a trademark attorney can still help you to ensure that everything is done correctly.
What Are the Different Classes of Goods You Can Trademark?
When you register a trademark, you do so by selecting a class of goods and services. In our above example, McDonald’s would fall under category 43 (“hotels & restaurants”) while the dry cleaners clearly wouldn’t. This is why two wildly different businesses may share similar trademarks without infringing upon each other.
The different classifications of goods and services you can trademark are:
- Cosmetics & cleaning preparations
- Lubricants & fuels
- Metal goods
- Hand tools
- Electrical & scientific apparatus
- Medical apparatus
- Environmental control apparatus
- Musical instruments
- Paper goods & printed matter
- Rubber goods
- Leather goods
- Non-metallic building materials
- Housewares & glass
- Cordage & fibers
- Yarns & threads
- Fancy goods
- Floor coverings
- Toys & sporting goods
- Meats & processed foods
- Staple foods
- Natural agricultural products
- Light beverages
- Wines & spirits
- Smokers’ articles
- Advertising & business
- Insurance & financial
- Construction & repair
- Transportation & storage
- Material treatment
- Education & entertainment
- Computer, scientific & legal
- Hotels & restaurants
- Medical, beauty & agricultural
Is It Possible to Make Changes to a Trademark in Colorado?
Changing a trademark is not a particularly complicated process. Much like registering a trademark, it can be done online by filling out some documents.
However, unless there was a mistake made that needs to be corrected, then it may be easier to allow a trademark to expire rather than change it. Trademarks are only valid for five years before they must be renewed. Renewal must be done in the 180 days prior to the expiration date. Expired trademarks cannot be renewed. So if you are coming to the end of a trademark period, then it may be easier to let that trademark expire instead and to register the new one.
If, for some reason, you have let a trademark expire, then you can still register that trademark again, but it has to be filed as a new trademark rather than a renewal.
You can use a Statement of Withdrawal of Trademark Registration to withdraw a trademark that has already been filed with the Secretary of State.
What Should I Do If I’m Confused About My Trademark?
If you have any questions about registering a trademark in Colorado, then you should contact an experienced trademark attorney. They can help you solve easy problems like ensuring that the proper category is selected to major issues such as trademark infringement and more.
In addition, while a trademark offers protection, it is not some magical shield that will stop others from trying to benefit off it. There are many people who don’t care about a trademark, they’ll try to rip off your brand and your intellectual property if they think they can get away with it. A good trademark attorney will be able to use the powers of the law to seek justice in cases like these.