The most valuable brands in the world are recognized by nearly everyone on the planet at a glance. The Golden Arches. That iconic swoosh. The apple.
Whatever your opinion of the products behind them, you know exactly what they stand for and what company makes them. The companies behind these brands spend a significant portion of their time protecting their brands. Whether your company is large or small, you should copy their example and trademark your brand and/or company name, too.
What Happens When You Register Your Brand as a Trademark?
When you register your brand as a trademark, it is immediately recognized within the registry of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Once identified and recognized, this registration discourages domestic and possibly foreign third parties from adopting or using a trademark similar to yours.
If another filer comes attempts to file a trademark that is confusingly similar to your existing trademark, the USPTO attorney examiner will identify your trademark and refuse registration to the new trademark. This can prevent infringements and save you the effort of taking legal action to stop a third party from copying your brand. What is even better, you pay nothing for the USPTO to do this.
7 Reasons to Trademark Your Brand
There are numerous reasons to trademark your brand or company name. Here are seven of the most compelling:
- You’re protected until proven otherwise. A trademark registration is prima facie evidence of validity of the registration, the registrant’s ownership of the trademark and the registrant’s exclusive right to use the trademark in commerce.
- Get help enforcing your rights. When a trademark registration reaches its fifth anniversary, it becomes incontestable (provided it was in continuous use). This precludes an attack by third parties on the basis of functionality or descriptiveness. This is extremely helpful when enforcing your trademark rights against would-be infringers.
- Widen your net. A trademark registration is typically national in scope and effective as of the date of application. This is extremely important because the United States is a first-to-file vs. first-to-use jurisdiction. Without a registration, your rights may be limited to your geographic trade area.
- Get the ® behind your brand. That little ® packs a powerful punch. The trademark registration owner has the right to use the ® device, which puts consumers and competitors on notice regarding your trademark rights.
- Automatic legal standing in federal court. The trademark registration grants the holder the right to sue in federal court regardless of diversity of citizenship and the amount in dispute.
- More damages. A trademark registration provides statutory damages, mandatory treble damages, and other penalties in criminal cases (e.g. criminal seizures) without the need to show actual damages.
- Extend your reach beyond U.S. borders. A registration can be recorded with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to bar the importation of goods bearing infringement of your trademark.
Interested in Protecting Your Intellectual Property?
For more information about trademark and copyright laws, or to speak to an experienced intellectual property attorney about protecting your brand or company name, contact Baker & Rannells, P.A. at www.tmworldwide.com
(Authored by Jack Branowski)