How to Register a Trademark in Illinois (2024 Guide)

Register a Trademark in Illinois

If you want to start an LLC in Illinois, trademarks are necessary when it comes to forming it. A trademark is a symbol, word, phrase, logo, or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of goods or services of one party from those of others. Registering a trademark is essential in protecting your brand and ensuring that your LLC stands out in the marketplace. This article will provide a step-by-step guide on Registering a Trademark in Illinois and discuss the importance of trademark protection for your business.

Webinarcare Editorial Team will help you register your trademark. You must be guided by all the factors gathered in this article.

What is a Trademark?

A trademark is a distinctive symbol, logo, word, phrase, or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of goods or services of one business entity, such as a Limited Liability Company (LLC), from those of others. This vital business asset represents the reputation, quality, and brand value of a company in the competitive marketplace. Registering a trademark at the state level grants the owner exclusive rights to use the mark within the state’s jurisdiction and offers legal protection against infringement.

An example of a trademark is the iconic “Nike Swoosh” logo, which is a recognizable symbol representing the Nike Inc. brand. The swoosh, created in 1971 by graphic designer Carolyn Davidson, has since become synonymous with athletic footwear, apparel, and equipment sold by the company globally. Over time, the logo has acquired significant brand recognition and value. As a trademark, the Nike Swoosh legally protects the company from competitors attempting to use similar designs, ensuring the uniqueness and authenticity of Nike products in the market.

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It is better to understand how trademark works. However, it is still suggested that you speak with a legal professional before you begin registering your trademark after starting an LLC in Illinois.


Steps on How to Register a Trademark in Illinois

Registering a trademark is important in protecting your brand identity and preventing others from using it without your permission. Here are the steps to follow when registering a trademark:

Step 1: Conduct a Trademark Search

Before you invest time and resources in registering a trademark, ensuring that your desired mark is unique and does not infringe on existing trademarks is essential when starting a business in Illinois.

Your trademark should be distinctive and distinct from other trademarks in the market. It should not be generic or merely descriptive of the goods or services it represents—the more unique your trademark, the stronger its protection will offer. The USPTO maintains a database of registered trademarks and pending trademark applications called the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). Conduct a thorough search of TESS to determine if any existing trademarks could conflict with your desired mark.

In addition to the USPTO database, checking your state’s trademark database is essential. Visit the Illinois Trademark Search to access Illinois trademark database and search for potential conflicts.

Step 2: Choose the Appropriate Trademark Class

Trademarks are categorized into different classes based on the type of goods or services they represent. The United States and most other countries use the Nice Classification system, which divides trademarks into 45 classes.

nice classification

Registering your trademark requires identifying the class or classes that best represent your product or service. Remember that if your business, offers multiple goods or services spanning different classes, you may need to register your trademark in each relevant class.

Step 3: Prepare and File a Trademark Application

Once you have conducted a thorough trademark search and identified the appropriate class or classes for your trademark, you can proceed with the trademark application process in Illinois.

Gather Required Information and Documentation

Prepare the necessary information and documentation for your Illinois trademark application, including:

  • A clear representation of your trademark (e.g., a drawing, logo, or stylized text)
  • A detailed description of the goods or services your trademark represents
  • The date of first use of the trademark in commerce (if applicable)
  • Poof of use of the trademark in commerce (if applicable), such as product packaging, labels, or marketing materials

File a Trademark Application with the USPTO

To register your trademark at the federal level in Illinois, you must submit a trademark application to the USPTO. The application can be filed online using the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS), which offers three different application forms with varying requirements.


Choose the form that best suits your needs and complete the required information, including:

  • A description of your trademark and the goods or services it represents
  • A clear image or drawing of your trademark, if applicable
  • The appropriate filing fee

For federal registration with the USPTO, the fees depend on the application form and the number of classes you are registering your trademark. Once your application is submitted, the USPTO will review it and may request additional information or clarification. Respond promptly to any requests to avoid delays in the registration process.

File Illinois Trademark Application

To register your trademark at the state level, you must file a separate application with the Illinois Secretary of State. In Illinois, the state trademark application fee costs around $35. 

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Step 4: Respond to Office Actions and Opposition

During the trademark registration process, you may encounter challenges in the form of office actions or opposition.

Office Actions

An office action is a formal communication from the USPTO or Illinois trademark examiner requesting additional information, clarification, or changes to your trademark application. If you receive an office action, you must respond within the specified time frame (usually six months for USPTO office actions) to avoid abandoning your application. Consider consulting a trademark attorney or agent to help you respond effectively to office actions.


After your trademark application is approved by the USPTO or Illinois trademark examiner, it will be published in the Official Gazette or a similar publication for a period of public opposition. During this time, third parties may file an opposition against your trademark application if they believe it conflicts with their existing trademark rights. If an opposition is filed, you may need to defend your trademark before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) or a similar state-level body. It’s advisable to seek legal representation if you face trademark opposition.

Step 5: Finalize the Trademark Registration

Suppose your trademark application passes the opposition period without any challenges. In that case, you will receive a Notice of Allowance (for intent-to-use applications) or a registration certificate (for use-based applications) from the USPTO or Illinois trademark office.

Statement of Use or Declaration of Use

If you filed an intent-to-use trademark application, you must submit a Statement of Use to the USPTO within six months of receiving the Notice of Allowance. This demonstrates that you are now using your trademark in commerce. You can request extensions of up to five additional six-month periods if you need more time to commence use.

Use the Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) SOU form to file an SOU.

Additional Fees

Additional fees may be associated with finalizing your trademark registration, such as submitting a Statement of Use or requesting extensions of time. Review the USPTO or Illinois trademark office fee schedule and submit any required payments.

Step 6: Maintain and Renew Your Trademark

Once you have successfully registered your trademark, it’s crucial to maintain and renew your registration to ensure ongoing protection. Trademark registrations must be maintained by submitting periodic maintenance documents and fees to the USPTO or Illinois trademark office. For federal registrations, the first maintenance filing is due between the fifth and sixth year after registration, followed by a second filing between the ninth and tenth year. Subsequent renewals are required every ten years.

Consider seeking professional assistance from Illinois Business Attorney if you have queries. Be mindful of the deadlines for maintaining and renewing your trademark registration. Please submit the required documents and fees on time to avoid the cancellation of your registration.

The Importance of Trademark Registration

Registering a trademark in Illinois offers several benefits for your business:

  • Legal Protection: A registered trademark grants exclusive rights to use the mark for the goods or services specified in the registration. This can help prevent others from using a similar mark that might confuse consumers.
  • Brand Recognition: Registering a trademark can help establish your brand identity and make it easier for customers to recognize and associate with your goods or services.
  • Deterrence: Registering your trademark can deter potential infringers, signaling your intent to protect intellectual property rights.
  • Right to Sue: Registering a trademark gives you the legal standing to bring a lawsuit against infringers in federal or state court.
  • Nationwide Protection: In the United States, registering a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) provides nationwide protection. Depending on your business needs, you may also register your trademark at the state level.

How Long Does It Take to Register a Trademark?

Depending on the potential issues that may arise, the trademark registration process typically takes between 6 and 12 months. Although some applications are approved in much less time, it is best to expect a longer wait; the USPTO receives hundreds of thousands of trademark applications each year, which increases processing time. In addition, the trademark office may request additional documentation or communication. As a result, applicants should be prepared to provide all requested information as soon as possible to expedite the registration process.


How do I search for existing trademarks in Illinois?
To search for existing trademarks in Illinois, you can use Illinois Secretary of State’s online database, or hire a trademark attorney to conduct a more thorough search.
Can an individual register a trademark in Illinois?
Yes, an individual can register a trademark in Illinois.
What is the cost to register a trademark in Illinois?
The cost to register a trademark in Illinois varies depending on the type of application you file, ranging from $10 to $300.
How long does it take to register a trademark in Illinois?
The average timeline for registering a trademark in Illinois is 10 months.
Do I need an attorney to register a trademark in Illinois?
No, but an attorney can help make the process smoother and ensure that your application has the best chance of approval.
What are the benefits of registering a trademark in Illinois?
Registering a trademark in Illinois provides legal rights and recognition of your brand and enables you to protect your intellectual property if necessary.
What is the difference between a state trademark and a federal trademark in Illinois?
A state trademark gives you exclusive rights to use your trademark within the state, while a federal trademark gives you exclusive rights nationwide.
Can someone else use a registered trademark in Illinois?
Using another person’s registered trademark in Illinois without permission is trademark infringement and can lead to either fines or imprisonment.
How long does a trademark registration last in Illinois?
A trademark registration in Illinois lasts five years, after which it must be renewed.
What kinds of trademarks can I register in Illinois?
You can register a wide range of trademarks in Illinois, including logos, slogans, symbols, or sounds that relate to your brand.
What happens if someone else tries to register a trademark similar to mine in Illinois?
You might want to object its registration by filing a trademark objection. Hire a lawyer to assist you with this particularly in-depth process.
How do I know if my trademark is eligible for registration in Illinois?
To be eligible for registration in Illinois, your trademark must be capable of being represented graphically and must not conflict with an existing trademark.
Can a trademark be sold or licensed in Illinois?
Yes, a trademark can be sold or licensed in Illinois, but the buyer or licensee must use the trademark agree to use it consistently with its original meaning.
Can I register a trademark internationally in Illinois?
Illinois can only provide state trademark registration service, to register for a worldwide trademark, one must apply separately in other countries.
Can a foreign company register a trademark in Illinois?
Yes, a foreign company can register a trademark in Illinois by retaining a lawyer domiciled in Illinois.
What is the difference between a trademark and a service mark in Illinois?
The chief distinction between a trademark and a service mark is that a trademark refers to a product or goods and a service mark refers to services.
How long does it take to renew a trademark registration in Illinois?
It can take up to 4 to 6 months for the renewal of trademark registration for Illinois.
Does registering a trademark in Illinois provide protection against legal action outside the state?
No, registering a trademark in Illinois does not provide protection against legal action outside of the state.
How can I monitor the use of my trademark in Illinois?
You can regularly monitor your trademark and perform a thorough trademark search, and hire professionals to help protect your intellectual property.
Can I transfer ownership of my trademark in Illinois?
Yes, a trademark is a piece of private property and can be sold, transferred, or assigned in Illinois with proper documentation.
Do I need to use my trademark to register it in Illinois?
No, you don’t need active sections of your trademarks to register them In Illinois.
Can a registered trademark expire in Illinois?
Yes, a registered trademark can expire in Illinois and must be renewed to maintain its registered status.
Can my trademark registration be challenged in Illinois?
Yes, individuals and companies can challenge your trademark registration in Illinois if they believe it infringes on their intellectual property.
Do I have to register a trademark in Illinois if I have registered a federal trademark?
No, registering a federal trademark automatically means you have registered a trademark in each state as well. Illinois state trademark however precedes in federal ones.
Can I use my trademark if it’s just pending, and if granted, would I then have to take any additional or corrective action in Illinois?
If you are waiting for a trademark to be approved, you can use a trademark symbol (TM) to indicate that it is pending. Once the registration has been granted, you can display the registered trademark symbol (®).
What makes a good trademark in Illinois?
A good trademark in Illinois is distinctive, easily memorable, associations easily help brand recognition and should be presented in designs that looks or immediately associates people with the company name.
How can I tell if someone is infringing on my trademark in Illinois?
You can tell that someone is infringing on your trademark in Illinois by closely monitoring any suspicious or potentially misleading use of your trademark.
Can I trademark a name based on a fictional character in Illinois?
Using names related to a Fictional character can apply but note significant requirements regarding differences or relations that make it outstanding among others.
Can I use symbols or emojis in my trademark registration in Illinois?
In Illinois, you may use emoji as a symbol of your trademark, but the trademarks’ design should explicitly explain helpful details according to its registration specifics.
Are there any exceptions allowed for trademarks in Illinois?
There are few specific limited uses under the fair-use sections of trademark law as newly added to the Illinois Constitution.

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Registering a trademark in Illinois is critical in protecting your brand and establishing a strong market presence. Even a Registered Agent should be familiar with the guidelines for making a trademark for your Illinois business. Following this guide and staying informed about trademark laws and regulations, you can successfully navigate the registration process and secure your intellectual property rights. With your trademark registration, you can focus on growing your business and building a reputable brand.

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