Archive for October 2013

What are the Benefits of Registering a Trademark or Service Mark?

October 15, 2013

Firstly, it should be understood that a trademark or service mark is a designation of ownership of a “brand,” using a symbol, words, device, or all three. The difference between a trademark and service mark depends on what it is used for –  trademarks are for physical goods, and service marks are for services.  A trademark is used to help potential customers distinguish between you and your competition. You have a valuable trademark. A trademark is a word, logo, shape, sound or other method to uniquely identify a product or service. Potential customers and customers easily remember your name and this creates new sales and repeat sales.

You do not have to register a trademark or service mark in order to use the “TM” or “SM” symbol and keep others from using your mark, but there are definite benefits from going through the Federal registration process and obtaining a registered trademark or service mark.inovia trademark filing

Why is it advisable to seek a U.S. federal trademark registration?

Many people assume they can protect their trademark simply by using the mark in commerce. It is true that you are not required to register a trademark to achieve some level of protection, and that you can create common law rights simply by using a mark in commerce.  However, having a federally registered trademark on the USPTO’s principal register provides several advantages.

Nine Advantages to Federal Registration of your Marks are as follows:

1. It protects your mark throughout the entire United States, no matter where you are selling and/or delivering your goods and services.
2.    You can use the ® with your mark which serves as constructive notice of your claim to its ownership. This makes it easier to pursue your claim in a lawsuit against potential copiers of your mark.
3.    A registered trademark provides clear evidence that the mark is not in the public domain and establishes a legal presumption of your ownership of the mark and exclusive right to use the mark nationwide on or in connection with the goods and/or services listed in the registration.
4.    The registration significantly strengthens your ability to stop imitators by giving you greater rights, enhanced damages and limiting the legal defenses of companies copying your mark. These rights scare off many copycats before they copy you.
5.    You are entitled to money damages from infringers.  If they copy you with knowledge of your trademark, you can get increased damages.
6.    After 5 years of being registered the trademark becomes “incontestable” under law. This is very strong protection and a great advantage.
7.    You may more easily get a case against a violator into the federal court if your trademark or service mark is registered.
8.    Customs and Border Patrol will prevent importation of infringing goods.
9.    Registration in the United States may provide a basis for obtaining registration in other countries.
10.   The registration is listed in the searchable U.S. Patent and Trademark Office online databases.

You will be much more likely to stop a trademark infringer if you have a U.S. trademark registration.  Time and again, after a trademark infringer is told of a federal registration they give up quickly.

Do you Need an Attorney to Register a Trademark or Service Mark?

While you can certainly register a trademark or service mark yourself, as a business owner you have more important things to do, so why not let the expert take on this task.  A good attorney who specializes in intellectual property can help you in several ways:

1.  By assisting in researching the U.S. Patent and Trademark data base (TESS) to make sure no one else has a trademark or service mark similar to yours.
2.  By providing you with counsel regarding the possibility of your mark infringing on another trademark or service mark.
3.  By filing the paperwork necessary for registration, to make sure everything is filled out properly so the registration application will not be rejected.
4.   By helping with revisions if necessary or in interpreting a rejection of a registration.

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding the registration of trademarks and service marks, or need any other assistance with either.