About a year ago, my lawyer friend Howard B suggested that I service mark/ trademark PardonMyFrench. He thought, while we were having lunch in Parsippany NJ, that if my website got big enough it would be important to have it registered. I of course laughed thinking, well there is no way I'll be in business on my own (minus my Connell Donatelli work) for a long period of time that a service mark would really matter. Anyway, he was serious so while I was on my way home I thought to myself "well maybe it wouldn't be so difficult on my own".
That night my cousin Nikki (she prefers to be called Nicole....) called me to discuss her new business selling political t-shirts under the company name Team Candidate, because politics is a team sport (there - how is that for a link Nikki?). One of things she brought up was how easy it is to get your own trademark or service mark using the government's online filing system for trademarks. So without the help from a lawyer (lunch will only get you so far), I used the online filing system, researched the mark, filed the paper work, and dropped about $300 or so on the filing.
After about 6 months I started hearing from the attorney assigned to review my mark. She was both helpful and knowledgeable on filings. After a few phone calls and follow-up information, she sent my mark onto public comment and approximately 14 months after my initial order, I am now the proud owner of the service mark PardonMyFrench.
That's right people, I own the mark on PardonMyFrench. That means every time you say PardonMyFrench, you need to say "oh that's owned by Eric Frenchman" or how about Eric Frenchman's PardonMyFrench. Just so you are clear, I can't stop you from saying pardon my french or collect any money when you say pardon my french. So please try and be careful on the use, or just like Viacom I'll send you letters asking you to refrain from saying those words or I'll ask you to pull down content when you use PardonMyFrench.
On a serious note, I'm still not sure what I'm doing with my service mark of PardonMyFrench. I guess I can ask Google and Yahoo to stop selling PPC ads on the term. Wouldn't that be crazy? All this should teach you is that the US Government has a great online process especially for small businesses and if you want to get a mark just be careful and follow the rules. Oh, one more thing, you'll get a lot of junk mail from former ambulance chasing lawyers saying that they will help you - guess what - it is all a bunch of BS. You don't need them....