It is your choice how to represent your mark in your application. Three possible mark formats are available: (1) standard character format; (2) stylized/design format; or (3) sound mark.
The standard character format means you are able to type your mark into the designated field on the electronic filing form by using characters found within the standard character set (or otherwise create a “typed” drawing for a paper submission). This is used to register word(s), letter(s), number(s) or any combination thereof, without claim to any particular font style, size, or color, and absent any design element. Registration of a mark in the standard character format will provide broad rights, namely use in any manner of presentation. If characters are not found within the standard character set (i.e., non-standard characters), then the “stylized” format must be used (see below).
During the application process for a standard character mark, the USPTO will depict the mark in a simple standardized typeface format. However, it is important to remember that this depiction does not limit or control the format in which you actually "use" the mark. In other words, the rights associated with a mark in standard characters reside in the wording (or other literal element, e.g., letters, numerals, punctuation) and not in any particular display. Therefore, registration of a standard character mark would entitle you to use and protect the mark in any font style, size, or color. It is for this reason that a standard character mark can be an attractive option for many companies.
Here is an example of a standard character mark:
The stylized/design format, on the other hand, is appropriate if you wish to register word(s) by themselves or combined to form a phrase of any length and/or letter(s) having a particular stylized appearance, a mark consisting of a design element, or a combination of stylized wording and a design. Once filed, any design element will be assigned a “design code,” as set forth in the Design Search Code Manual.
Here are some examples of special form marks:
It is your choice whether to register a standard character mark or a special form mark. Some applicants choose to register just the wording alone, just a design alone, or a combination of both. It all depends on what you use as your trademark, what you would like to protect, and how much money you would like to spend.
Some companies register each component individually (for example, an entity name, a slogan, and a design). This gives them the most flexibility, as the components are all protected and they can mix and match how they use the trademarks (sometimes the design alone, sometimes the slogan alone, sometimes the design with the slogan, etc.). Some businesses cannot afford this, so instead focus on registering the component (or two) that they use the most and that is most important to them.
Remember, there is no requirement that you register your trademark with the federal government. You are always free to use your trademark (in whatever combination you desire), regardless of your registration status. Unregistered marks and mark components, however, miss out on the rights and protections provided by a federal trademark registration (e.g., a legal presumption of your ownership of the mark; an exclusive right to use the mark nationwide on or in connection with the goods and services listed in your registration; etc.).
NOTE: Formats (1) and (2) may not be mixed in one mark; i.e., do not submit a representation of a mark that attempts to combine a standard character format and a stylized/design format. Certainly a mark may consist of a graphic element with text---but the text may not be in the standard character format unless that truly is how the wording appears within the overall composite mark.
NOTE: If you wish to apply to register a stylized/design mark using the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS), you must create a JPG image file (the only accepted format) of the mark. TEAS cannot be used for filing a stylized or design mark if no JPG image file exists. You do not have to create a special electronic file for a standard character (i.e., not stylized/design) mark. In TEAS, you may simply type the standard character mark into the provided entry field.
NOTE: The depiction of the mark you submit now is what will appear on your registration certificate once the application process is completed and the USPTO has determined that your mark should register. Trademark Rules prohibit any amendment of the mark that would be considered a “material alternation” of the mark as originally filed. In other words, you may not add (or delete) words and designs to the mark throughout the overall application/registration process if it would change the commercial impression.
In many cases, the addition or deletion of words or designs will be considered a “material alteration” and you would not be allowed to change the depiction of the mark in the application/registration. If this is the case and you wish to register a “new” mark with the proposed changes, you would have to file a “new” application, pay the required filing fee, and begin the application process again. For more information on “material alteration”, see TMEP §§807.14 et seq.
For more information about choosing a mark format, please watch the news broadcast-style video titled “Drawing Issues” (video #5 in the Trademark Information Network (TMIN) series).