Business owners scattered across various industries wonder if they should register a trademark for their products or services, and you could be one of them. While a trademark attorney can go a long way in getting thorough answers to any questions you might have, learning the basics of trademark can certainly help create a good foundation of knowledge.
A trademark is a name, word, device, symbol or a combination of the four that is utilized or intended to be utilized to both distinguish and identify company products or services and the business that supplies those products or services. To condense that definition, think of a trademark as a brand. What’s more is that you can also define a service mark the same as you would a trademark.
Trademarks, Patents and Copyrights
You might be confused as to whether you’re better off with a copyright, patent or trademark. Patents are for new inventions and upgrades to currently existing inventions. Copyrights are for musical, artistic and literary works.
Federal Trademark Registration Benefits
While you don’t absolutely have to register your trademark, doing so can offer you a number of benefits. For instance, you can file your registration with the U.S. Custom Service in order to block the importation of infringing international products. You also have tangible and concrete evidence as to your ownership of the claim, and the federal courts jurisdiction can be enforced if necessary. Finally, registering your company’s trademark in the U.S. can help you register it in a foreign country should you decide to expand your business overseas.
Common Law Trademark Rights
Know you also have the option of common law rights if you decide not to register your trademark with the federal government. These common law rights come from the actual use of the trademark, which means if your company is the first to either use the mark or file an application with the Patent and Trademark Office for your intent to use the mark, you have right over the trademark. While paying for a trademark registration might be the last thing you want to do, it could be quite beneficial in the future.
Filing a Federal Trademark Registration
Once you’ve decided to officially register your trademark, it’s essential that you be the owner of that trademark, otherwise your application will be void. You’re considered the owner of a trademark if you control or use the trademark, or if you control the quality of services or goods associated with the mark.
When you’re ready to register your trademark, you can do so through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In addition to trademark registration, the Trademark Electronic Application System can be used to correspond with an examining attorney’s office action, amendment to allege use, notice of address change or statement of use.
While you don’t absolutely have to have a trademark attorney, it can most certainly be beneficial and save you a tremendous amount of time and possibly even money in the long run. There are an abundance of procedural and substantive regulations to follow in regard to trademark law, and an experienced attorney can help you navigate the legal minefield without blowing off the legs of your business, or worse.
The Federal Registration Symbol
You’ve probably seen the letter R inside of a circle after a brand or product name. This is the federal trademark registration symbol, and it can be used once the mark has actually been registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Know that you aren’t able to use the symbol on your services or products while your registration application is pending.
While you are far from becoming a certified pro on all things trademark, you’re at least now heading in the right direction.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.