In 1996 there were just 67,000 Class 36 trademarks on file with the USPTO. But in the last decade, that number has more than tripled. Today, there are around 250,000 registered financial trademarks. In 2008, the financial industry saw the largest increase in financial trademarks in the last decade, adding 13,864 new trademarks (see Table 2 below).
Key Takeaway: Securing a trademark in the financial industry is getting harder every day. Register your financial institution’s trademarks before someone beats you to it. And be careful coming up with new names, even for things like products and services. Make sure any new brand names you want to use aren’t already being used by someone else.
Reality Check: Any financial institution savvy enough to register its trademarks might be inclined to do whatever it takes to protect their brand assets (translation: “lawsuits”) even if you are thousands of miles away.
Bottom Line: It only takes a couple minutes to look up a financial trademark at the USPTO — time well spent if you save yourself a mountain of headaches down the road. Relative to the potential consequences if you don’t register your trademarks, the cost is basically nothing.
Tip: While you can register your own trademarks directly with the USPTO, you should retain the services of a lawyer.
Table 1. Financial Trademarks 1998-2008
Table 2. Financial Trademark Applications vs. Registrations
In 1999, the USPTO only approved 1-in-4 financial trademark applications, or around 25%. In 2008, the USPTO approved 4-out-of-5 financial trademark applications, or about 80% (see Table 2 above).
There were 2,784 fewer applications for financial trademarks in 2008 vs. 2007, off 15% in 2008. But the USPTO approved 1,574 more applications in 2008 (Table 2).
Table 3. Monthly Trademark Applications in Class 36
There were 2,784 fewer applications for financial trademarks in 2008 vs. 2007, off 15% in 2008. But the USPTO approved 1,574 more applications in 2008.
Table 4. Monthly Approved Trademarks Applications in Class 36