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 should be 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.
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) 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. You may not add or subtract words and designs to the mark throughout the overall application/registration process, except in very rare circumstances; any change that would be considered a “material alternation” of the mark as originally filed is never permissible.
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).