Trademarks & Licensing

Trademark registration

If your department or program is interested in registering a trademark, please read the following information and fill out the UW trademark questionnaire (PDF).


A trademark is a word, logo or package design, or any combination of these, used by an entity to identify its goods and services and distinguish them from others. Trademarks include brand names identifying goods (Dole for canned pineapple) and trade dress consisting of the graphics, color or shape of packaging or after sufficient use, of goods (Coca-Cola Bottle for a soft drink); service marks identifying services (McDonald’s for a restaurant service); certification marks identifying goods or services meeting specified qualifications (Woolmark for apparel made of 100% wool); and collective marks identifying goods, services or members of a collective organization (The International Game Fish Association for a game fishing organization). The same legal principles generally apply to all of these terms, often called “marks.”

Obtaining trademark rights

  • You do not need to register a trademark to have protectable exclusive rights in it. Simply by using a mark on or in connection with goods, or by displaying the mark in the sale or advertising of services, you can automatically acquire trademark rights in the geographic area of use. The best way to protect a trademark is to ensure that it is used consistently and for a long period of time. Trademark protection begins with disciplined use rather than upon registration.
  • Usage is the most significant factor for trademark protection in the United States. Consistent use is the means through which trademark rights are established.  Certain circumstances determine whether it is appropriate to register a mark.

Federal trademark registration

Review the following and complete the UW trademark questionnaire to determine if a mark associated with the University should be registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Registration of a mark is not mandatory and rights will be protected without registration if you have actually used the mark.

A federal trademark application is based on:

  • actual use of the mark in interstate commerce;
  • bona fide intention to use the mark in federally regulated commerce (but the mark subsequently must be used in the ordinary course of trade, and not merely to reserve a right in the mark, before the registration will be issued).

Trademark applications are subject to an examination process, and registration will be refused if the mark:

  • is not capable of distinguishing the applicant’s goods or services from those of others;
  • so resembles another registered trademark as to be likely to cause confusion, mistake or deception when compared to the applicant’s goods or services;
  • consists of immoral or scandalous matter;
  • consists of a flag or coat of arms of the United States or other governmental entity;
  • consists of the name, portrait or signature of a living individual without that person’s consent;
  • is merely descriptive or deceptively misdescriptive of applicant’s goods or services and has not become recognized as an indication of source;
  • includes a geographic location that consumers are likely to believe, mistakenly, that the goods or services have their origin or are connected with the geographic location;
  • comprises any matter that other entities need to compete effectively in the market.

Complete the UW trademark questionnaire and return it, with the appropriate collateral materials/examples, to UW Trademarks & Licensing via