Once you have determined how you plan on presenting your goods or services to the public, you will likely have certain logos or designs that are unique to your company and/or products. These marks are used to identify your brand and to help you stand apart from the competition. If another company uses the same (or closely similar) designs for its products, then it has the potential to cause confusion among consumers and dilute your brand. That is why protecting your trademark is so important.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) states that a trademark is protected by virtue of being put into use (assuming it is not infringing upon another party's mark). However, there are numerous advantages to registering your trademark. Our top 10 reasons for doing so are listed below:
10. Trademark Search: Before registering, your attorney will make sure that a thorough trademark search is done. While you can do this on your own, it is typically much more involved than people realize.
9. Printing Costs: If you don't register and you find out later that another company already has the same or a very similar name, you will have to redo all of your business cards, stationery, advertising, and signs. If you already have registered a domain name, you will have to change that as well.
8. Lost Customers: If you have to change your business name because you later find out that someone else is already using it, you could confuse and lose your customers.
7. Exclusive Use: Registering your mark gives you the exclusive right to use it within the relevant geographic area.
6. Option to Expand: You could lose the right to expand outside the original business area if you do not register.
5. Presumption of Ownership: Anyone else who uses your registered mark will be presumed to be a willful infringer, and you could be entitled to monetary damages as a result of the infringement.
4. State Law Protection: Some states' laws provide additional protection in an infringement action if the mark is registered with the state.
3. Federal Protection: Federal registration serves as constructive notice to the rest of the country that you are the owner of the mark, even if you do not yet do business nationally.
2. Liability to Registered Owner: If you do not register and there happens to be a registered owner of the same or a substantially similar mark, that owner will have an indefinite period of time to find you and sue you for infringement.
1. Money, Money, and More Money: If you have infringed on someone else's name or mark, you may be ordered to rename your company immediately; give up all profits earned by the use of the unregistered mark; and pay other damages, including punitive damages, fines, and attorneys' fees.
Want to Register Your Trademark? Get Legal Help
Perhaps the main advantage of registering your trademark is to have the peace of mind it provides. The same can be said about hiring an attorney, since the cost of not obtaining legal representation can be quite high if something goes wrong. Find a trademark law attorney near you to get started.