Michigan Trademark Attorneys: The Kids Are Alright—With Help from Mom or Dad
Can a minor file a Federal trademark registration application? It’s a question that is occasionally worth asking.
Once in a while, a child will spit out a crazy idea that is … not so crazy. Maybe even brilliant or, better yet—marketable. Any parent realizes fairly quickly as kids develop speech and other skills that they can be weirdly inventive.
And that sometimes pays off.
When a minor turns into a junior entrepreneur, the need to protect his or her business name, slogan, or logo with Federal trademark protection arises just as it would for an adult.
The question of whether or not a minor child can file a trademark application at all (or form a corporation or enter into contracts) becomes less academic the further the kid dives into a project.
Minors Filing Trademark Registration Applications: It Depends on State Law
Although the Trademark Registration process, at the Federal level, is a function of Federal statute and Federal administrative rules (and case-law arising from disputes in Federal court), it relies in certain respects upon the law of the state in which an application is filed.
This is true in many areas of Federal legal practice—bankruptcy being another example—and it is true of the Federal trademark registration process.
A Federal trademark registration may be filed by a minor—if the laws of the State in which the minor resides and from which the minor is filing the trademark application allows a minor to enter into a contract or directly file a lawsuit.
This is not true of a great many states, including Michigan, the home base of The Hilla Law Firm.
It is a point on which a quick Google search as to this question will immediately provide you an incorrect answer from a non-lawyer “legal information company” that shall remain nameless.
If the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Examining Attorney in receipt of the Trademark Registration Application notes that the applicant is a minor, he or she will be required to investigate whether the applicant’s state allows the signature.
If it does not, the Examining Attorney will file an Office Action refusal of the Trademark Registration Application to require a correction in the signature.
How to File a Trademark Registration Application for a Minor
When your state’s law does not permit a minor to act in his or her own legal capacity, there are a couple of ways to accomplish a Federal trademark registration application filing.
First, the minor child’s parent or guardian can sign the Federal Trademark Application in that capacity.
For example, “Joe Schmoe, United States Citizen, parent/legal guardian of Junior Schmoe.”
The other strategy for handling this situation implicates one of the most common questions for a trademark registration applicant: do you want your personal contact information on the trademark registration application?
The applicant’s (non-PO Box) mailing address, phone-number, and email address are all requested on the Trademark Registration Application form. All of this information will, upon filing of the application, become publicly viewable by anybody with a computer.
Is this desirable? Generally not. Particularly when the applicant is a minor.
Trademark attorneys have various methods for completing the Trademark Application and protecting clients’ personal information.
One of the usual courses of action is to create a corporate entity that will hold ownership of the Trademark Registration rather than an individual (human) applicant.
Again, state law will determine whether or not a minor can form a corporation or LLC.
In Michigan, a minor cannot sign an Article of Corporate Formation—but a minor can be a member of an LLC or an officer of a corporation. The parent or guardian would be a 2nd LLC member or corporate officer and the one signing both the corporate formation papers filed with the State of Michigan—and, after formation of the entity, the one signing the Trademark Registration Application.
On behalf of the corporation or LLC. Which may have a separate business address, thus also preserving privacy.
Trademark Registration for a Minor: The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that with regard to trademark protection of your minor child’s million-dollar idea and venture, it is worth your while to obtain competent assistance from a trademark attorney
The Hilla Law Firm, PLLC will work with your family to protect your brand and can assist with all of the steps required for trademark registration for your minor. (Corporate formation services prior to Federal trademark registration application filing available only in Michigan.)
We are located in the Motor City, but our trademark practice is national. We represent clients for trademark matters anywhere in the United States and beyond.
Virtual consultations offered and affordable flat fees and virtual consultations.
Contact Us at (734) 743-1489 to schedule an initial consultation appointment to discuss your trademark needs.