Why should anyone register a servicemark? We see many brand names in our lives through the media on a daily basis. What are the benefits of a registered servicemark, or what are the risks of not having one? You need to register a servicemark, 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 servicemark 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 servicemark by other people.
Risks of Not Having a Servicemark Registration:
If you don't file and register a servicemark, then someone else may register a similar servicemark 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 servicemark 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 servicemark shows the public that you own the servicemark and have exclusive rights to it.
In addition, you can create rights in a servicemark 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 servicemark without registration. Someone can innocently start to use a similar name or logo because they have no knowledge about your servicemark.
Second, the rights in a common law servicemark are limited to the geographical area where the servicemark has been used. For example, if a coffee brand is sold in California only, the servicemark 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 Servicemark Registration:
Servicemark registration benefits both businesses and consumers. As a business, a registered servicemark protects your name and logo in today's confusing and tough market conditions. A servicemark not only protects you from having someone using your name, but most importantly a servicemark also prevents anyone from having a similar name within the same industry. As a result, a servicemark 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 servicemark you do business with is protected in the entire United States.
Servicemarks 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 servicemark registration provides several important advantages, including notice to the public of the registrant's claim of ownership of the servicemark, a legal presumption of ownership nationwide, and the exclusive right to use the servicemark on or in connection with the goods or services set forth in the registration.
Advantages of a Servicemark:
Exclusive Rights to a Servicemark Owner
Upon registering your federal servicemark name, the Unites States government grants servicemark owners the right to exclude all other businesses and individuals from using a similar servicemark on related goods or services. Therefore, you, as an owner of the servicemark, have the exclusive right and ownership to use the servicemark in your business trade. A registered servicemark can, after five years, become incontestable at which point the exclusive right to use the servicemark is conclusively established.
In plain English, this means that you can legally stop someone from using a similar servicemark.
Your Servicemark will Appear in Public Databases
When you file and register a servicemark it will appear in the federal servicemark database at the United States Patent and Servicemark Office (USPTO). Generally, a company would do a federal servicemark search prior to filing a servicemark application. If your servicemark appears in the public database, then it prevents others from using and filing similar servicemarks. This helps you save time, money and the legal hassle of defending your servicemark 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 Servicemark. Without a Federal registration you may be only protected within your local area under the common law. Federal Servicemark 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 servicemark 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 servicemark 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 servicemark locally because you are violating their rights within the national territory. Therefore, it is imperative to obtain a Federal Servicemark.
Ability to Bring a Lawsuit in Federal Court
The owner of a Federal servicemark registration has an easier ability to bring a lawsuit in Federal Court against any party who infringes their respected servicemark. 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.