Why should anyone register a trademark? We see many brand names in our lives through the media on a daily basis. What are the benefits of a registered trademark, or what are the risks of not having one? You need to register a trademark, because it is the legal method to officially protect a brand name, logo or phrase used on a product/service anywhere in the United States.
Registering your trademark is the quickest and most cost-effective way to ensure legal exclusivity for the use of your name or logo. It significantly reduces the risk of being prevented from using your trademark by other people.
Risks of Not Having a Trademark Registration:
If you don't file and register a trademark, then someone else may register a similar trademark in the meantime, making it hard or impossible for you to get registration in the future. One of the most emotionally draining and expensive things that can happen to anyone who owns a trademark brand is to receive a "cease and desist" letter from a lawyer telling you to stop using the name which you thought you owned. Registering your trademark shows the public that you own the trademark and have exclusive rights to it.
In addition, you can create rights in a trademark by using it in commerce. However, these common law rights have limitations. First, it can be difficult for someone to know whether you exist and have rights to a particular trademark without registration. Someone can innocently start to use a similar name or logo because they have no knowledge about your trademark.
Second, the rights in a common law trademark are limited to the geographical area where the trademark has been used. For example, if a coffee brand is sold in California only, the trademark rights to that name exists only in California. If another store begins to sell the same coffee name in Florida (assuming they have no knowledge of the California company) and wants to expand nationwide, then they would discover that the California company’s common law rights would prevent them from entering the California market.
The Benefits of Trademark Registration:
Trademark registration benefits both businesses and consumers. As a business, a registered trademark protects your name and logo in today's confusing and tough market conditions. A trademark not only protects you from having someone using your name, but most importantly a trademark also prevents anyone from having a similar name within the same industry. As a result, a trademark allows you to create a clear identity and reputation of your product and/or service with customers. You can grow or expand with confidence knowing that the trademark you do business with is protected in the entire United States.
Trademarks also allow consumers to be better buyers by empowering them with the ability to distinguish brand products. This ensures that they can repeat their purchases of brands they liked and avoiding brands they didn't like.
Owning a federal trademark registration provides several important advantages, including notice to the public of the registrant's claim of ownership of the trademark, a legal presumption of ownership nationwide, and the exclusive right to use the trademark on or in connection with the goods or services set forth in the registration.
Advantages of a Trademark:
Exclusive Rights to a Trademark Owner
Upon registering your federal trademark name, the Unites States government grants trademark owners the right to exclude all other businesses and individuals from using a similar trademark on related goods or services. Therefore, you, as an owner of the trademark, have the exclusive right and ownership to use the trademark in your business trade. A registered trademark can, after five years, become incontestable at which point the exclusive right to use the trademark is conclusively established.
In plain English, this means that you can legally stop someone from using a similar trademark.
Your Trademark will Appear in Public Databases
When you file and register a trademark it will appear in the federal trademark database at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Generally, a company would do a federal trademark search prior to filing a trademark application. If your trademark appears in the public database, then it prevents others from using and filing similar trademarks. This helps you save time, money and the legal hassle of defending your trademark rights against infringes.
Nationwide notice gives you protection within the whole Unites States geographical territory. This is one of the most important reasons in registering a Federal Trademark. Without a Federal registration you may be only protected within your local area under the common law. Federal Trademark registration is an important step that enables any business to grow and expand in other markets of the country without the fear that someone else is already using their trade name.
To expand your business nationally without a Federal registration is risky business because any party who uses your trademark in a different geographical territory than you, and does so prior to your federal registration, will have the power to stop you from using the trademark in the particular region of the country in which they have already established their business. In addition, they may even stop you from using your trademark locally because you are violating their rights within the national territory. Therefore, it is imperative to obtain a Federal Trademark.
Ability to Bring a Lawsuit in Federal Court
The owner of a Federal trademark registration has an easier ability to bring a lawsuit in Federal Court against any party who infringes their respected trademark. In some cases, the owner may even obtain monetary compensation for their losses. It is possible to recover an infringement monetary award of three times your actual damages, plus attorney fees, and doing so is only possible with a registration.