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Infringement can be a costly legal issue. However, with a trademark registration, your brand will be protected from infringement. You’ll also be protected from infringing on others.
A trademark registered with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) also protects you in disputes that arise anywhere in the country. Read on to learn more about these important protections.
A Registered Trademark Protects Your Brand from Infringement
Maintaining control of your brand is essential to your success as a business owner. Unfortunately, you can easily lose control of your brand when other businesses start to represent competing products or services with similar trademarks.
Consequently, when another business uses your trademark without your permission, whether intentionally or not, it could create confusion for your customers. Even the most loyal customers could ultimately be swayed from your brand.
In order to maintain the control of your trademark and your brand, you must register your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO.
Owners of federally registered trademarks can use the ® symbol. Place it wherever your trademark can be seen, from your website to your product labeling and signage.
This symbol will serve as public notice that your mark has been registered with the USPTO. Often, this is all that you will need to do to deter others from using your trademark without permission.
Occasionally, however, you might need to take more formal legal action. If you find evidence of possible infringement, you should take action immediately. Your registered trademark comes with valuable protections. However, this is true only if you work to enforce those protections.
It Protects Your Brand from Infringing on Others
Taking action against potential infringement is critical to your brand, of course. However, it is just as important to avoid infringing on another business’s mark.
Therefore, before you submit your application to the USPTO, work with an attorney to conduct a comprehensive trademark search. This search will determine if a similar mark is already in use. Then, as you submit your application to the UPSTO, the examiner assigned to your file will complete an additional search to ensure that your mark is not already in use.
Once the USPTO registers your trademark, you will have the presumption of nationwide validity in your trademark. It is important to note that others may still challenge the validity of your registration. However, such challenges are rare.
Protection from infringing on others is incredibly valuable to registered trademark owners. Building your brand without a trademark registration could be a costly mistake. This is especially the case if you find out later that you’ve been infringing on an existing mark.
While it is surely frustrating to learn that the mark you’ve chosen is unavailable, it’s best to find this out before you’ve labeled your products, purchased signage, and created a marketing campaign.
Any business with a similar registered trademark would be well within their rights to demand you halt sales and rebrand your business. This is time-consuming and expensive. Only a registered trademark will protect you from infringing on an existing mark.
Gain Protections in All 50 States with a Registered Trademark
The United States is a first-to-use country. This means that you will have some rights to your mark as soon as you use it in the marketplace, even without registration.
However, it’s important to note that these protections are extremely limited. For instance, common law trademark rights will only apply to disputes that arise in the small geographic region where your business is located.
Therefore, if you plan to move your business or expand beyond your region, you could find yourself infringing on another’s business. You will also have a more challenging time asserting trademark rights in legal proceedings.
A trademark registered with the USPTO, on the other hand, has the presumption of nationwide validity. As the owner of a federally registered trademark, your brand will be protected from infringement in all fifty states. Moreover, as you grow and expand your successful business, or even move your business to an online retail platform, you can do so without the fear of infringement.
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Protect Your Brand Through Trademark Registration
Whether you are just in the development stage of your business or you’ve been offering your product or service for a while, now is the time to register your trademark with the USPTO. The valuable protections you will gain, from presumption of nationwide validity to protections against infringement, far outweigh the costs, even for smaller businesses.
With a registered trademark, you can move forward in confidence, knowing your brand will remain in your control. Fortunately, as long as you continue to use your mark and meet renewal deadlines, these brand protections will never expire.
Contact an experienced trademark attorney to begin the trademark registration process today.
About the Author
Josh Gerben is the founder of Gerben Law Firm, PLLC, a full-service intellectual property boutique offering trademark, copyright, and patent services. Since 2008, Gerben has secured over 5,000 trademarks for clients and has been featured in a wide range of local and national news outlets, including NPR, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Fox News and more.