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The Office of Small Business Advocate

The Office of Small Business Advocate serves as a point of contact to state government for owners of businesses with fifty (50) or fewer employees. The Office of Small Business Advocate is located within the Comptroller of the Treasury.

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Trademarks FAQs

What is a trademark?
A trademark is any word, name, symbol, device or combination thereof used by a person to identify goods made or sold and to distinguish them from the goods made or sold by another person.  In general, you use a trademark to identify a product or goods that are sold (examples include soft drinks, automobiles, magazines and food).

What is a service mark?
A service mark is the same as a trademark, except that a service mark is used by a person to identify services rendered or offered and to distinguish them from the services rendered or offered by another person.  The services must be provided to the public or any party other than the applicant.  In general, you use a service mark to identify services that are offered or sold (examples include restaurant, retail business and computer services).

What are specimens?
A specimen is an actual example of the use of the mark in commerce.  It is the means by which the public would view your mark and be aware of the specific goods or services offered.

How can I check on the status of trademarks in the State of Tennessee?
To access information on trademarks, search the Trademark Searchable Database.  The Trademark Searchable Database maintains records on all active or pending trademarks on file with the Tennessee Secretary of State as of three working days prior to date of the search.  Expired trademarks are removed from the database on a monthly basis.

Where can I find a comprehensive explanation of the trademark filing process?
The Trademarks & Service Marks Filing Guide has information on registering a mark with the Division of Business Services, frequently asked questions, a glossary of terms, applicable legal statutes and sample filing forms.

For what reason might an application for registration or renewal of trademark be rejected by the Division of Business Services?
The reasons for rejection include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • An incomplete form is submitted.  All blanks must be filled in for both registration and renewal applications.
  • An acceptable specimen is not provided.  A specimen is required for both registration and renewal applications.
  • No signature and/or is the signature is not notarized.
  • Incomplete dates.  Dates must include month, day and year.
  • The application is completed in pencil.  All registration and renewal applications must be typewritten or completed in ink.
  • Failure to include the $20.00 per classification filing fee.
  • Failure to include the type of goods and/or services to be provided.
  • Failure to include the mode or manner of use.
  • Failure to include a classification in the application.
  • A new owner is listed in a renewal application.

What are the laws governing trademark registration in the state of Tennessee?
The Tennessee Trade Mark Act of 2000 governs trademark registration in Tennessee.  The Tennessee Trade Mark Act of 2000 can be found in the Tennessee Code Annotated, Sections 47-25-501 through 47-25-518.

Once registered, how long does a trademark last?
Trademark protection lasts for five years from the date of filing.  Trademarks can be renewed for subsequent five year intervals beginning from six months prior to expiration until the day of expiration.

What role does the Secretary of State play in regulating the use of trademarks or prosecuting their misuse?
The Secretary of State does not play any role in regulating the use of trademarks or in prosecuting their misuse.  The Tennessee Trade Mark Act of 2000 designates the Department of State as the filing agency for trademarks.  The Department’s role is strictly ministerial.  If you have any questions about the “protection” of a mark, infringement upon your mark, or the application of filing requirements to your specific situation, you should consult an attorney or other professional.

How many active marks are registered in Tennessee?
There are more than 8,000 active marks registered in Tennessee.  The Division of Business Services registers more than 160 trademarks per month.