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Trademark A T Shirt Slogan

How to Trademark a T-shirt Slogan — a Step By Step Guide

Lindokuhle Mkhize

Lindokuhle Mkhize

20 September 20235 min read

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trademark a t-shirt slogan

Anyone with access to the internet can now create clothing thanks to the growth of print-on-demand t-shirt firms like Merch by AmazonCafePress, and Zazzle.

However, the possibility that someone would steal your work and put it on another website also comes with this ease. Or even that you might unintentionally violate someone else's design. In this blog article, we'll guide you on trademarking your unique t-shirt slogan.

So, how can a prospective designer selling t-shirts take care of themselves?

The two primary forms of IP protection that apply to t-shirt designs are copyright and trademark. We'll concentrate on trademark law in this blog.

What's the buzz with trademarks?

So, what exactly is a trademark? As the trademark owner, it's like your fashion signature! Legal protection for registered marks sets your brand or product apart from others. Think cool logos, catchy slogans, and unique designs.

But why should you bother trademarking your t-shirt design and slogan? Well, it means you're the boss of your brand! It gives you exclusive rights to use, license, and profit from your awesome slogan. Plus, it keeps copycats at bay.

"Having a registered trademark gives the term protection under all applicable United States laws, as opposed to just common-law trademark protection. As a result, the applicant has the option to sue a rival for trademark infringement both in federal court and before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board."– USPTO.

Let's get started — initial considerations

Before diving in, let's do some detective work! Conduct a comprehensive and thorough trademark search to ensure your slogan is one-of-a-kind. Use online databases and get help from the pros if needed. You want to be unique, right?

Next up, let's talk about being distinctive. That's what makes your slogan pop! Think quirky, creative, and totally you. Understand the different levels of distinctiveness to make sure your slogan is trademark-worthy.

Oh, and don't forget to pick the right trademark category for your slogan. We're talking t-shirt slogans, so choose Class 25, which covers all things clothing and apparel.

Select the appropriate filing basis for the trademark application

Alright, first things first. You'll need to choose the right filing basis when filing your trademark application. If you're already selling your t-shirts with the slogan, go for "Use in Commerce." 

But if you haven't started selling them yet but plan to rock the fashion world soon, "Intent to Use" is the way to go.

Submit the trademark application to the Trademark Office

Once you've decided on the filing fee basis, it's time to make it official! Gather all the necessary documents and fees, and submit your mark application. In the US, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is where the magic happens. Double-check everything so there are no snags in the process.

Speak with a trademark attorney

Okay, let's talk about getting expert help. While you can handle the trademark process on your own, having an IP attorney in your corner can be a game-changer. Having an IP attorney do a trademark search is probably the most crucial step in trademarking a phrase, saying, quote, or term. 

Can I enforce my trademark rights internationally?

So, you're thinking big and wondering if your trademark can be registered internationally. Well, trademark rights protections are usually limited to the country where the mark is registered. To protect your slogan internationally, you must file for trademark registration in each country you want coverage. 

The Madrid System for international trademark registration is a centralized filing system that facilitates the international registration and management of trademarks in multiple countries through a single application. It is governed by the Madrid Agreement and the Madrid Protocol, both administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

How do I determine if my phrase is eligible for trademark protection?

Let's make sure your slogan is trademark-worthy. To be eligible for trademark protection, your phrase should be distinctive and set you apart from the crowd. Avoid generic or descriptive phrases. Do your research to ensure your slogan isn't already in use, or get help from the experts.

How long does the trademark registration process take?

Patience is key in the trademark world. The registration process for registered trademarks can take several months to a year (or more). It depends on factors like the Trademark Office's workload and any challenges that may arise.

 Keep an eye on the progress and proactively address any concerns along the way.

What's the difference between a registered trademark (®) and an unregistered trademark (™)?

A registered trademark (®) indicates that the trademark has been officially registered with the appropriate office and is protected by law. It provides stronger legal protection and can deter others from using a similar mark.

An unregistered trademark (™) indicates that you claim ownership over a trademark, even if it's not officially a registered mark. While it doesn't hold the same legal weight as a registered trademark, it can still provide some level of protection.

How long does trademark protection last?

The USPTO requires trademark owners to maintain registration every ten years to keep a trademark active. At first, you'll need to demonstrate continual use in trademark applications for five years after your original trademark date.

Trademark that slogan!

You're now equipped with the ultimate guide to trademarking your fantastic slogans. Whether you go solo or enlist a fashion-forward attorney, the trademarks you secure will cement your place in the fashion hall of fame. 

Don't forget to keep your eye on the legal runway, stay vigilant for copycats, and consult a pro when needed. With your trademarked slogans, you'll conquer the fashion world and make everyone say, "Where did they get that amazing t-shirt?" 


Should I trademark my t-shirt slogan?

By registering a t-shirt logo or slogan as a trademark, you can deter competitors from creating or offering identical t-shirts, strengthening your position in your market.

How do you protect a t-shirt slogan?

On a "hang tag" or in small print on the sleeve, neck, or bottom of the garment, mark your t-shirt with the trademark. You will be employing your brand as a trademark (i.e., a source identification) if you go about it in that manner.

Can I patent a shirt slogan?

Patents shield new inventions. Therefore, a phrase, saying, quote, or word cannot be patented. Rather, trademark protection would be in effect.

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Lindokuhle Mkhize, a skilled creative copywriter and content lead at Trademarkia, brings a wealth of experience in driving innovation and managing teams. With previous success in starting and growing the Innovation and Marketing department at her former creative agency, Lindokuhle boasts expertise in leadership and delivering compelling content. Based in South Africa, Lindokuhle's work focuses on key themes of creativity, effective communication, and strategic marketing.