Frequently Asked Questions


What is a Drawing Page?

A drawing page is a visual representation of your mark on an 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of paper that must be submitted with your Trademark / Service Mark Application for Registration (Form TM-100).  The drawing may be hand-written, hand-drawn, or computer-generated.  A photocopy of the mark is not acceptable.  If your mark contains only words, list only those words on the 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of paper.

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Who may be listed as the owner of a Trademark or Service Mark?

If the owner of the mark is a business entity, the entity structure must be consistent with the entity name in your application (i.e., if the owner is a limited liability company, the business structure listed in Item 3 must be Limited Liability Company indicating the State or Country where the Articles of Organization were filed.)

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What is required if my Trademark or Service Mark is not in English?

If any part of the Trademark or Service Mark is not in English, you must submit a certified translation in English with your Trademark / Service Mark Application.  You may wish to consult the following websites for assistance with a certified translation:

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What is a Design Code?

A design code is a six-digit numeric code that is used to describe a design element of a Trademark or Service Mark.  If your mark includes a design element, using the Design Search Code Manual developed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office available at http://tess2.uspto.gov/tmdb/dscm/index.htm, include the appropriate design code(s) that describes the significant element(s) of your mark to help distinguish your mark from other marks registered with the California Secretary of State.  If you do not include a design code, one or more design code will be included by Secretary of State upon review and filing.

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What is a Specimen?

A specimen is an item that displays how the mark is currently used in commerce.  Include with your Trademark / Service Mark Application three (3) identical (three of the same) original specimens that show the mark in use in commerce on the goods or in connection with services provided in California.

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What is a Classification Code?

A classification code is a three-digit numeric number used to identify the goods or services to which the mark applies.  The list of classifications of goods and services can be found through the United States Patent and Trademark Office website at www.uspto.gov/web/offices/tac/doc/basic/international.htm or at Title 37 of the Code of Federal Regulations, part 6, section 6.1.

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What if my attorney is filing on my behalf?

This office will accept the signature of an attorney if a copy of an agreement, signed by the applicant is submitted with the application.

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What is the difference between a Trademark and Service Mark?

A Trademark is any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof, used to identify and distringuish a good or product from those manufactured or sold by others.

A Service Mark is any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof, used to identify and distinguish services from those services provided by others.

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How long is a Trademark or Service Mark registration active?

A Trademark or Service Mark registration is active for five (5) years from the date the mark was filed with the California Secretary of State's office.  Within six (6) months of expiration of the five (5) years, the mark may be renewed for another five (5) years.  The mark may be renewed every five (5) years as long as the mark is in continual use.

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Can a Trademark and Service Mark be filed on the same application?

No.  Trademarks and Services Marks must be filed on separate applications.  Each application requires separate fees and submittal of separate specimens.

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How much is the filing fee to register a Trademark or Service Mark with the California Secretary of State's Office?

The fee for filing a Trademark or Service Mark is $70.00 per classification code per mark.

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Does registering a Trademark or Service Mark give exclusive rights to the mark?

Registration in and of itself does not guarantee exclusive ownership of a mark.  To ensure that all issues are considered and addressed appropriately, you should consult with private legal counsel.

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Can I register a cannabis-related Service Mark or Trademark with the California Secretary of State's Office?

Beginning January 1, 2018, customers may register their cannabis-related Trademark or Service Mark with the California Secretary of State's office so long as:

  1. The mark is lawfully in use in commerce within California; and 
  2. Matches the classification of goods and services adopted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  

If the application submitted to register a Trademark or Service Mark is found deficient, the application will be returned to the registrant for correction.

Note: Not all cannabis-related products can be registered under current law due to the inability to meet federal classifications.

For further information including forms, fees and registration instructions, please visit the California Secretary of State's Trademarks and Service Marks webpage.

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How will priority be determined for a Trademark or Service Mark application for identical marks received at the same time?

In the instance of separate applicants concurrently seeking registration of the same or confusingly similar marks, priority will be given to the application received in the following order:

  1. Applications received online through our website,TMbizfile.sos.ca.gov will be labeled received at the actual time and date received.
  2. Applications received in person over the counter in Sacramento will be labeled received at the actual time and date received.
  3. Applications received by mail will be labeled received at 5:00 p.m. on the date received.

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