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After all the time, money, blood, sweat, and tears you've spent building up your business, not protecting your trademark is almost like leaving on a week-long vacation with the front door to your home wide open. Without adequate protection for your trademark, another business can come along and profit off the goodwill you generated in the trademark, or worse, destroy the goodwill you generated.
Fortunately, if you have a logo, or some other copyrightable and identifiable design that identifies your company, you may not necessarily need to register your trademark or slogan to be protected. However, protecting an unregistered trademark will usually be more difficult than protecting a registered one, as additional proofs will be required.
While a trademark does not need to be registered in order to receive intellectual property protection, it certainly helps. Additionally, registering a trademark allows other businesses to easily find out whether a trademark they plan on using has already been taken.
Generally, it only involves filling out some forms, which are available online, with basic information about your business, the intended mark, and the mark's intended use. Since the process is rather straightforward, many individuals will attempt to register a trademark on their own. However, because the process can take anywhere from 1 to several years, it may be worth it to hire an attorney to handle the process.
For some businesses that do not operate nationally, but only within a state or local market, national trademark protection may not be necessary, or possible. In these situations, a business owner may consider seeking to only have their trademark registered within the state or states their business operates in. Like the federal government, individual states offer trademark protection for businesses that operate within their states.
Under federal law, certain trademarks cannot be granted protection. These unprotect-able marks include, but are not limited to:
The process is not too terribly complex, nor expensive. Even experienced trademark attorneys can help your business register your mark for considerably less money than one might expect.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
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