What is a trademark? According to the US Patent and Trademark Office, a trademark or service mark, “includes any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination, used or intended to be used to identify and distinguish the goods/services of one seller or provider from those of others, and to indicate the source of the goods/services.”
A trademark is typically the business name or company logo; it is important to have a unique, memorable name or emblem so your customers can easily identify your business amongst your competitors.
Why federally register your trademark? When starting a business, registering your trademark, logo, and/or business name should be an important consideration. Below are six benefits of registering your trademark.
1) Even though unregistered trademarks that are used in connection with the sale of goods or services may have some legal protection, the burden of proof is much higher should someone copy or infringe upon your creation.
Having a registered trademark on file gives the business owner additional protections, including presumed ownership, and diminishes the burden of proof.
2) By registering the trademark, you ensure that your trademark is not similar to any other registered trademarks. If you accidentally infringe upon someone else’s name or trademark, you could be sued by the registered trademark owner and may have to pay legal fees and fines as well as give up all profits obtained under the unregistered mark.
You could also be forced to pay damages to the owner of the registered mark. If you then have to rename your company or create a new logo, you will lose even more money to new marketing materials. You could also possibly lose customers from the ensuing confusion over your product or identity.
3) Registering the trademark ensures that other companies will not have a similar trademark, and gives your company exclusive rights to operate and market under said trademark.
Your trademark could also provide the right to legal action against anyone that infringes upon it. Once you have your registered trademark, you can record it with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which will ensure no counterfeit goods are imported.
5) You can use the symbol, “®” after your trademark, which indicates your mark is federally registered, adding to the prestige of your company.
6) If your company wants to expand into other countries, you can use your federal registration for foreign trademark filing.
When should I register my trademark or company name? The simple answer is: as soon as possible, for the six reasons stated above. Most business owners start to explore the trademark process before even forming the company. It can become quite costly in legal fees to have to amend the company name, should you accidentally infringe upon someone else’s registered trademark.
How do I register my trademark? Information surrounding all the registered trademarks in the United States Patent and Trademark office can be found at uspto.gov. You can conduct a search and do the necessary research in order to ensure there is not another registered trademark like yours.
Many of our clients have hired an attorney that specializes in trademarks, as the process can be heady and complicated. Should you wish to conduct a trademark search or try to complete the application procedure on your own, feel free to reach out to the Trademark Assistance Center at TrademarkAssistanceCenter@uspto.gov or call 1-800-786-9199.