Can You Trademark a Phrase?

Any business can trademark a phrase used with their products or services. Trademarks can include any catchphrases, slogans, taglines, or mottos, including combinations of different words. If you want to trademark a phrase, your company must be using the phrase in commerce or has intentions to use it in the future. Having catchphrases helps build brand awareness and grow your business. Customers will associate your products with any slogans or mottos that you trademark.

Any trademarked catchphrase, slogan, tagline, or motto distinguishes your unique brand from others on the market. Your business cannot use a phrase that another entity has the trademark to in similar products or services. The first step to obtaining a phrase trademark requires completing an application to the USPTO, or United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Why Trademark Protection for Phrases?

Trademarking a phrase protects the words you use to represent your brand or company. Any trademarked slogan helps identify your business’ products or services and offers protection against inauthentic brands using your slogan. Having a trademark protects any catchphrase, slogan, tagline, or motto that your brand actively uses from infringement by an outside party.

Registering your brand’s phrase trademark with the USPTO protects your brand nationally. If you learn that other businesses have been using your slogan in similar products or services, having a trademark gives you the ability to file a l lawsuit against anyone using your slogan. A registered phrase trademark allows you to sue for money damages or stop the company currently using your slogan. You can look up registered phrase trademarks in the USPTO’s database.

Trademark Registration Rules


Trademarking a phrase can be a complicated process, and you need to follow a set of rules. Cutting corners can cost you the non-refundable application fee if you make a mistake. Phrase trademarks exist to identify the brand and the source of specific products or services. By implementing catchphrases, slogans, or mottos, you help market your brand and sell your products and services.

The USPTO will likely reject any phrase trademark application if you do not have the intention to sell your products or services in connection with the phrase. Due to the complexity of obtaining trademarks, seeking legal assistance can help save you time and costly errors. AMPACC has attorneys specializing in U.S. trademark law and can guide you while applying for a phrase trademark.

Trademark Phrase Application Process

After deciding to trademark a phrase, you must submit an electronic application to the USPTO. If your brand has been using the slogan, you apply for a use-in-commerce phrase trademark. If your business has plans to use a tagline, your trademark application will show an intent to use it. If you intend to use a phrase, you must submit the proof of use later and pay higher fees.

Once the USPTO accepts your completed application, they assign an examining attorney to your trademark application. The examining attorney may have questions or need further documentation. Our attorneys at AMPACC have extensive experience and can provide answers or documents if the USPTO’s attorney needs them. The phrase trademark application process typically takes a year if you meet all of the USPTO’s requirements.

1. Trademark Phrase Search

Before applying for a phrase trademark, you need to be sure that no other party has that trademark in similar goods or services. Searching the USPTO Trademark Electronic Search System will help you determine your catchphrase’s availability at no cost to you. However, searching the USPTO’s database can be time-consuming and overwhelming. AMPACC’s knowledgeable legal team can assist your search and application process because your phrase may be similar to another brand’s. The period to obtain a phrase trademark takes time, and we have a dedicated team of lawyers to work for you to focus on your business.

2. Filing a Trademark Application

Using the TEAS (Trademark Electronic Application System), you will submit either a TEAS Plus or TEAS Standard application to trademark your phrase. You must enter the phrase exactly how you use it or intend to it. Any changes to fonts or wording require you to file an additional application.

After entering your phrase on the trademark application, you then fill out the class of goods and services where your brand will use the phrase. All USPTO application fees have no refund, and one mistake can be costly. By retaining one of our attorneys, AMPACC ensures that your phrase trademark application will meet all requirements before and during the process.

3. Examination and Approval of Your Trademark Phrase

After submitting your phrase trademark application, the USPTO will review your application about three months after the filing date. You may check the status of your application using the TSDR system.

If the examining attorney finds reasons for refusing to register your trademark, or if your application does not meet all legal requirements, you will receive a letter (office action) stating the reasons for those refusals or requirements. If you continue to move forward with the application process, you have six months to respond. Otherwise, your application will be abandoned and the filing fee will not be refunded. At that moment, you must file a petition to revive the application or file a new application, either of which has new costs.

If your application meets all requirements and the examining attorney does not find reasons for refusal, the USPTO will publish your phrase trademark in their weekly publication, the “Official Gazette.” Within 30 days of the publishing date, anyone who believed his or her business will be harmed with your trademark application can file an objection. Because oppositions are complex proceedings, you may need to hire a trademark attorney to help you navigate the process.

Within about three months after your trademark’s publication, if no opposition was filed, your trademark will be registered and you then can choose to use the registered trademark symbol ® next to your slogan. The symbol informs competitors that the tagline has been registered as a trademark and you can defend it from infringement.  

After your trademark registers, you should periodically file maintenance documents and fees within specific time frames to keep your registration alive.

How Much to Trademark a Phrase?

The USPTO trademark initial application fees cost $250 to $350 per class for one trademark and do not include any legal fees. Applying for a phrase trademark using the TEAS Plus application has more requirements to meet but a lower fee of $250. The TEAS Standard application requires less information but has a higher cost of $350. Any variations or changes in lettering would be treated as a separate application. Besides, intent-to-use applications bear more costs than use-in-commerce applications.

Once you have your phrase trademark, the registration lasts for five years if you actively use it, and it can be renewed indefinitely. By the end of the first 6-year period after the registration date, you will need to file a declaration of use, which costs $225 per class for each phrase trademark. Before the 10th year of having your phrase’s trademark, you will need to file a combined declaration of use and application for renewal, which costs $525 per class for each phrase. From that point on, you will need to submit such a combined filing every ten years. Trademark renewal fees may change over the years, but the USPTO will have up-to-date information.

You can continue to renew your brand’s phrase trademark as long as it continues to represent the products or services of your original application. If you would like to reach out to AMPACC to discuss trademark registration costs, please visit our website at We also specialize in patents, copyright, licensing, and startups.