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Top 10 Reasons To Register Your Trademark

My countdown of the top 10 reasons to register your trademark:

10. Trademark Search: Before registering, an 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.

Trademarks

Trademarks identify the source of a product or service.  They include business names, logos and slogans, as well as product names.  While they are usually names and designs, they can also be comprised of sounds, such as the NBC or Intel chimes.  Registering a trademark allows the owner to exclude others from using a trade name that is confusingly similar to the trademark.  (trademark examples below belong to actual clients, click on images to visit their websites)

Trademark Searches

A trademark usually belongs to the company who has been using it longest.  Therefore, prior to marketing a new brand name, it is wise to investigate whether it is already in use.  A trademark search uncovers more than what is readily found using internet search engines.  It also includes perusing both federal and state trademark databases looking for any previously registered trademarks that look or sound similar to yours.

Federal Trademarks

The most common and most effective way to protect your name and logo is through Federal Registration at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.  Federal Registration allows the owner of a trademark to seek statutory damages and attorneys fees against an infringer.  It is also possible to file an Intent-to-Use application, securing rights to a name or logo before it goes on the market.

State Trademarks

Unlike patents and copyrights, trademarks may be registered by state as well as federal government.   State trademark registrations are inexpensive and are sometimes the best form of protection, depending on the type of business and its goals.

Trade Secrets

Trade secrets include research into new products, client databases, pricing,  business know-how and other confidential information.  There is no process for registering trade secrets.  However, various methods may be used to minimize the risk of their divulgence and to maximize the penalties paid by the parties responsible   Arranging these methods requires knowledge and understanding of how to use the law to best protect a business’s important confidential information.

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