How To Register a Trademark for a Clothing Line: A Guide to Brand Protection


There are few industries where trademark protection is more important than the fashion industry. Textiles are one of the most counterfeited products in the world. A properly registered and displayed trademark can effectively distinguish your lifestyle brand from a low-budget imitator. Understanding the trademark process is essential for clothing manufacturers and designers to vigorously protect not only their brand, but also their bottom line. This guide will help you get a grip on the trademark registration process when your main product is clothing.

Select a Unique Name

The first step to registering and protecting a clothing line is to pick a unique brand name that distinguishes your clothing line from competitors. This step isn’t just a sound legal move for trademark protection, it also establishes the basis of brand-based marketing. A unique, distinguishing trademark can help designers create value for their clothing line, while hindering the success of counterfeiters and imitators who might try to cash in on the creativity, popularity, and goodwill your brand has established in the marketplace. Leave your mark (pun intended) by establishing a name that will become synonymous with quality.

Conduct a Trademark Search

To ensure a trademark is unique, it is essential to do a thorough, in-depth search to make sure that the selected name, logo, design or slogan does not resemble any already existing trademarks. A properly conducted search can save valuable time and money, as federal regulations generally prohibit the registration of trademarks that are confusingly similar to others.

Why are searches important?  

This is an important point to remember, because if a trademark closely resembles one that has already been registered and the registered trademark identifies similar goods and services, the application for your trademark will likely be refused, and you could receive a cease and desist letter from the original trademark owner ordering you to stop using your trademark.

When should I conduct a trademark search?

The best time to search for similar trademarks is before you commit significant resources to marketing the brand, and before you attempt to register your trademark. An early trademark search will save you money, simplify the trademark registration process, and increase your chances of receiving a federal registration from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Submit the Trademark Application

In order to register a trademark, an application must be filed with the USPTO. Your application must include the following information:

·       Applicant name

·       Name and address for communications

·       Clear drawing of the mark

·       Identification of goods and the type of clothing you will be selling

·       Payment of necessary filing fees for at least one class of goods

The application is almost entirely governed by the facts underlying the trademark, as well as its present and future uses. This may seem like a simple process, but there are many factors that influence the outcome of your application. The trademark registration process is not a file-and-forget process. Performing an in-depth search, having a unique trademark, and having the appropriate information are essential elements to a successful trademark application. This brings us to the final point clothing designers should be aware of when pursuing a trademark -- selecting a proper specimen.

Select a Specimen

At some point during the application process, you will have to submit a specimen to accompany your trademark application. A specimen is an example of how you use your trademark to promote or identify your products to the end consumer. Specimens for clothing are a bit tricky -- placing a logo or slogan on an article of clothing will typically not be enough in many cases, and will likely result in the receipt of an office action that includes a “merely ornamental” refusal from the USPTO. Generally speaking, proper specimens for clothing include placing the slogan, name or logo on a tag or label attached to, or sewn into the garment so that it can be properly recognized as a source identifier for the clothing associated with your trademark.  


Hawkins Law Offices, LLC is an intellectual property law firm specializing in the protection, maintenance, and monetization of its client's trademarks. We are dedicated to representing creators in all forms. If you have any questions regarding this article or would like to speak with an experienced trademark attorney, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Derek Hawkins

Hawkins Law Offices, LLC, 757 North Water Street, Suite 300, Milwaukee, WI 53202