I am looking for advice. We have a social group. Our president chose to leave our group, (do not wish to name the name). This president founded the group and choose the name. The group pays dues and has annual parties of which the proceeds go back to the group for other functions. The president stole the money. When we confronted the president, they quit the group. I have checked and the name is not trademarked. We want to trademark the name to prevent the former president from having a claim to the money under the group name. Can we do this legally?
Yes. In cases of dispute, this disparity of rights is often referred to as "first to file" as opposed to "first to use." In most systems, a trademark can be registered if it is able to distinguish the goods or services of a party, will not confuse consumers about the relationship between one party and another, and will not otherwise deceive consumers with respect to the qualities of the product.
The owner of a registered trademark may commence legal proceedings for trademark infringement to prevent unauthorized use of that trademark. However, registration is not required. The owner of a common law trademark may also file suit, but an unregistered mark may be protectable only within the geographical area within which it has been used or in geographical areas into which it may be reasonably expected to expand.
In the United States the registration process entails several steps prior to a trademark receiving its Certificate of Registration.
- an Applicant, the individual or entity applying for the registration, files an application to register the respective trademark. The application is then placed in line in the order it was received to be examined by an examining attorney for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
- Following a period of anywhere from three to six months the application is reviewed by an examining attorney to make sure that it complies with all requirements in order to be entitled to registration. This review includes procedural matters such as making sure the applicant's goods or services are identified properly. It also includes more substantive matters such as making sure the applicant's mark is not merely descriptive or likely to cause confusion with a pre-existing applied-for or registered mark. If the application runs afoul of any requirement, the examining attorney will issue an office action requiring the applicant to address certain issues or refusals prior to registration of the mark.
- and after the examination of the mark has concluded with no issues to be addressed or an applicant has responded adequately to an examining attorney's concerns, the application will be published for opposition. During this 30-day period third-parties who may be affected by the registration of the trademark may step forward to file an Opposition Proceeding to stop the registration of the mark. If an Opposition proceeding is filed it institutes a case before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to determine both the validity of the grounds for the opposition as well as the ability of the applicant to register the mark at issue.
- provided that no third-party opposes the registration of the mark during the opposition period or the opposition is ultimately decided in the applicant's favor the mark will be registered in due course.
You can read more on Trademarks on Wikipedia
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. All information given is from Wikipedia. You should consult with a lawyer.