Selecting the Proper Format for a Trademark

If you have done any research into filing a trademark application, you know that there are some decisions to make. One of the most important choices is the depiction of your mark.

There are two possible mark formats that you can use to describe your trademark: (1) standard character format; or (2) stylized or design format.

Standard Character Format

The standard character format is used to register words, letters, numbers, or any combination thereof, without claim to any particular font style, size, or color, and absent any design element.  In other words, just words.

In general, you should submit a standard character drawing if:

  • All letters and words in the mark are depicted in Latin characters;
  • All numerals in the mark are depicted in Roman or Arabic numerals;
  • The mark includes only common punctuation or diacritical marks; and
  • The mark does not include a design element.

Registration of a standard character format provides broad rights for the trademark owner including the right to use the words in any manner of presentation.  For instance, you can use the mark in any font style; it can be bold or italicized letters; and can use both uppercase and lowercase letters, all uppercase letters, or all lowercase letters.  Or any other variation.  I highly recommend getting a word mark above everything, if it is possible.

Stylized Format

The stylized or design format, on the other hand, is is used to register a mark with a design element(s) and/or words and/or letters having a particular stylized appearance that you wish to protect.

In most cases, companies select the stylized format because they want the mark to include color or a design/logo.

Other Considerations

Finally, it is important to note that the two types of mark formats cannot be mixed in one mark.  Therefore, it is important to ensure that you do not submit a representation of a mark that attempts to combine a standard character format and a stylized or design format, because, once the application is filed, you cannot make a material change to your mark.

How I Can Help

As always, this post provides only a brief overview of the advantages and disadvantages of the two trademark formats. Before you undertake filing for a trademark, you should  consult with an experienced intellectual property attorney.

Please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

The Sun – Safely

Well, I saw this article about making a Sun Gun (no, not the one envisioned by German scientists in WWII), but this one, and I just happened to see a Fry’s ad for a $129.00 Celestron 60mm goto telescope and I couldn’t resist.  So, after a quick trip to the penny less than a dollar store only I manage to get all the parts for this:

She’s a beauty, ain’t she.

Using the 9mm eye piece that came with the scope I was able to actually see 6 sunspots!

Despite the wind that kept moving my planter….er…sun viewing device around I could clearly make out the sun and the sunspots.  Although it is not very apparent in these shrunk down, web size pictures, the full blow images are great.  Visually it is rather stunning.  Next steps: I will reinforce the connection a little more, but I now have a safe, quick and easy way for children of all ages to view the sun safely!

Please remember to never look directly at the sun as it will make you go blind!

Venus transit here I come!

– Ex astris, scientia –

The Number of Female Patent and Trademark Holders is Surging

The number of women obtaining patents and trademarks in the United States has dramatically increased over the past several years, according to a new study conducted by the National Women’s Business Council. Researchers examined data obtained from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to determine the number of patents and trademark granted to women between 1975 and 2010. The overall conclusion was  that “U.S. based women demonstrate increasing leadership in patent and trademark activities.”

In 2010, 33 percent of all trademarks granted to individuals and sole proprietorships went to women. Meanwhile, women held 18 percent of all patents granted in 2010, doubling the percentage held in 1990.


• The number of patents granted to women increased by approximately 34.72% from 2009 to 2010.

• The highest sustained rate of increase in the grant of U.S. patents to women was in the 1986-1993 period.

• The participation of women in Trademark activity as measured by the percentage of Trademarks granted has more than doubled in the period between 1980 to 2010, from approximately 16.5% in 1980 to more than 33% in 2010.

• Women have a significantly higher participation in Trademark activity as compared to Patent activity. For instance, whereas women received approximately 18% of all patents granted in the year 2010, the contribution of women to Trademark activity was more than 33%.


If you have an idea that needs protecting, please contact me for your free 30 minute consultation at or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.  Feel free to ask for one of our very knowledgable female attorneys (like Laura or Katherine) too!

Using the Moon to View the Venus Transit

The astronomers in charge of the Hubble space telescope are going to try and use the sunlight reflected from the Moon to view the transit of Venus in June.  Because the Hubble cannot look directly at the Sun, this would make sense.  But what are they trying to do? Well the good folks over at Hubblesite have the explaination…extra-solar planets.  What?  That’s right, by looking at the atmosphere of Venus in this fashion scientists hope to be able to use this technique on extra-solar planets to determine what they are made of, their atmosphere and other important data.

I, however, am preparing myself to view this months annular eclipse and then use the techniques I learn to photograph the transit in June and the total eclipse in November.  If this is the last year for planet Earth (NOT!), it will be a fun one.

P.S. the Mayan calendar is probably a perpetual calendar so everything just starts over again at the year zero.

What’s the Difference Between (r) and tm?

This is another question that I get asked a lot. So let me help you by explaining the difference between (r)  and tm.   It basically comes down to whether or not your mark is federally registered or not. If your  Mark has been  approved by the United States patent and trademark office after you have filed an application, then you get to use the (r)  or circle R  on all your goods and services that have been approved by the USPTO.

However, not all marks the approved to be listed on the principal register of the trademark office. So what do you do then? Well, you can always use the common law TM symbol next to the mark that you’re claiming rights in. The use of TM next to a mark can, in some instances, provide you with a  basis for eventually getting your mark listed on the principal register. Suffice it to say that this process is fairly long, and involves a lot of knowledge about trademarks.

If you have any questions regarding trademarks, the (r) symbol,  or how to  properly use TM, please contact me for your free 30 min. consultation at  or 1-800-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

How to Get in Trouble on the Internet in One Easy Step.

I just answered a question from a person regarding a URL that they had purchased.  Unfortunately, the URL that they had purchased was also a valid trademark for a semi famous sports figure, who by the way has a valid trademark in their name. The question that was asked was regarding a letter this person  had received from attorneys representing these are my favorite sports figure requesting that they turn over the URL. The person who purchased the URL did not have any webpages up promoting any items or trading on the goodwill of the name of the semi famous sports person. They inquired whether or not they could keep the  URL and redirected to another page where they could sell items and not give it back to the trademark owner.

The answer to this is fairly straightforward and quick. Do not under any circumstances try and use someone’s valid trademark is URL to sell goods and services for yourself. The trademark owner will have causes of action against you. Also, if you purchase the URL to jump on a bandwagon so to speak because some things suddenly became “hot”, you will find the $5-$30 that you spent acquiring the URL  will be a small amount ext to attorneys fees you’ll have to pay to get you out of this mess.

Just a word to the wise, just do’t do it.

In my practice I regularly encounter questions like this.   If you have questions regarding the Internet, Domain names or any other intellectual property questions please contact me for a free 30 min. consultation regarding your issues at  or toll-free at 1-800-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

How to Copyright Software

Software code can be registered as a literary work with the copyright office. In fact, copyright registration often affords the best legal protection for your software program. That’s because copyright registration not only ensures that no one may copy, distribute, or display the software without your permission, but also allows you to pursue legal action against infringers. In some cases, software copyright registration is a relatively easy process. In fact, if your application is filed online, the source code may be uploaded electronically in PDF format. Otherwise, you will need to print out the code and submit it with your paper application.  I don’t recommend that you file paperwork with the copyright office.  They have made statement to the effect that it will be years before they look at any paper filed copyright applications.  Use electronic filing (its cheaper too).

Here  are a few additional considerations-

1.  Software Programs Without Trade Secrets:

You are required to submit one copy identifying portions of the program (generally the first 25 and
last 25 pages of source code), together with the page containing the copyright notice (you should have a copyright notice placed in the header and footer of ALL your code). For a program less than 50 pages in length, applicants should send the entire source code.

2.  Software Programs With Trade Secrets:

If the software program contains trade secrets, you must include a cover letter stating that the claim contains trade secrets, along with the page containing the copyright notice (see above).  You  must also submit one of the following:

• First 25 and last 25 pages of source code with portions containing trade secrets blocked out,

• First 10 and last 10 pages of source code alone, with no blocked out portions,

• First 25 and last 25 pages of object code plus any 10 or more consecutive pages of source code, with no blocked- out portions, or

• For programs 50 pages or less in length, entire source code with trade secret portions blocked out.

Special Concerns for Web-Based Software:

If the software is available, online, you must submit identifying material for the screen displays in addition to the required source code.  The identifying material for the screen displays should be images or printouts clearly showing the screens. If using online registration, images of the screens may be uploaded electronically to the Copyright Office.

Revised Software Programs (ie. Version 2.0 of your software):

Each separately published version of a software program that contains new, copyrightable authorship must be registered separately, with a new application and fee. Registration of the first version may extend to the entire work if it contains no previously published or registered portions. Registration of any subsequent version covers only the new or revised material added to that version.

In many cases, it is advisable to consult with an experienced copyright attorney before seeking to register your software program to ensure your rights are protected.  Please contact me to schedule your free 30-minute consultation by email at or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

Getting Ready for the Eclipse

Dateline, May 20, 2012.  Where: western United States.  ITS COMING! No, not the end of the world or the Mayan calendar, just a great opportunity to view an annular eclipse.  What is an annular eclipse you ask?  Well, according to Wikipedia: An annular solar eclipse occurs when the Moon’s apparent diameter is smaller than the Sun, causing the Sun to look like an annulus (ring), blocking most of the Sun’s light. An annular eclipse appears as a partial eclipse over a region thousands of kilometres wide.  In other words, it looks like the image at the top of the post or this one:

Solar annular eclipse of January 15, 2010 in J...

Solar annular eclipse of January 15, 2010 in Jinan, Republic of China. Français : Éclipse solaire de type annulaire du 15 janvier 2010 à Jinan, République de Chine. Tiếng Việt: Nhật thực hình khuyên diễn ra ngày 15 tháng 1 năm 2010 tại Tể Nam, Cộng hòa Nhân dân Trung Hoa. 中文: 2010年1月15日日環食,中國濟南. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The moon doesn’t completely block the sun, so there is a ring.  I will be traveling to get the best vantage I can for the event and for some astrophotography as well.  The timing of the eclipse just happens to be on a new moon weekend.  Barring any clouds or bad weather, it looks to be spectacular.

This will help me get ready for the total eclipse on November 13 in Australia.  I can’t wait to go back to Australia.  I highly recommend a trip if you haven’t been there before.  The people are great and the country is beautiful.

A word of warning!!! Never look directly at the Sun, it will blind you!  Google eclipse for ways to safely view an eclipse.

– Ex astris, scientia — Ex astris, scientia –

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Transit of Venus

2004.06.08 Venus Transit, Celestron 8" Ca...

2004.06.08 Venus Transit, Celestron 8″ Catadioptric Telescope (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another astronomical eye-fest is happening in June.  The planet Venus and Earth will be alined in the right places so that we can see Venus transit the Sun.  A transit occurs like an eclipse (see yesterdays post).  Venus will be traveling across the surface of the Sun and it will be viewable to us here in the United States.  For more information on how to safely view the transit I recommend you go here.

Warning!!! Never look directly at the Sun, it will blind you.  Check out the resources at the link above for safe ways to view the transit.

– Ex astris, scientia –

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I’m a Radio Star!

Well, not quite yet.  I will be on the Adrenaline Radio Show on May 9th between 3:00 and 4:00pm to answer all your pressing intellectual property questions.  If you are not in the local area you can listen on the Internet at  So tell all your friends with questions to listen and call in.

If you have any patent, copyright or trademark questions and would like a free 30 minute consultation,  please contact me to set up an appointment.

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