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Top 10 Reasons To Register Your Trademark

The federal trademark registration process is crucial when protecting your intellectual property. Trademark protection is a vital step in safeguarding your brand identity. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) states that a trademark is protected by being put into use, assuming it is not infringing upon another party's mark. Use in commerce or business is necessary before final trademark approval.

Once you begin using your business name or logo, you automatically receive common law trademark rights protection in your geographic area. However, there are many advantages to registering your trademark.

Here are FindLaw's top ten reasons to register your trademark:

10. Peace of Mind

Knowing that you have taken the steps to protect your brand name will help provide peace of mind about your company's long-term protection. Not worrying about ownership and protection will give business owners the time to focus on expanding their business.

9. Marketing and Promotion Cost

If you don't register and you find out later that another company already has the same or similar name, you will have to rebrand. This means you need to redo all your business cards, stationery, advertising, and signs. If you already have registered a domain name, you must also change that and any social media handles.

8. Preventing Confusion

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. Ensuring that your registered business name, or "Doing Business As" (DBA) name, has trademark protection helps avoid confusion or misrepresentation.

7. Exclusive Rights and Brand Protection

Registering your business trademark with the USPTO gives you the exclusive right to use the mark for the products or services you applied for to help you stand out in the market.

6. Consumer Trust in Brand Name

A registered mark symbol on your work signals professionalism and commitment to high quality. It helps build trust with potential clients. Any time you claim rights in a mark, you may use the trademark symbol "TM" (trademark for products) or "SM" (service mark for services) designation to alert the public to your claim. You can use this mark whether you have filed an application with the USPTO or not.

You may use the federal registration symbol "®" only after the USPTO registers a mark, and not while an application is pending. In addition, you may use the registration symbol with the mark only on or in connection with the goods or services listed in the approved federal trademark registration.

5. Presumption of Ownership

Anyone else who uses your registered trademark will be considered a willful infringer. Why? It's easy to do a search on the USPTO database. More importantly, federal trademark law presumes everyone is on notice of your ownership, even if they were not, just because it's in the database. Because of this, you could receive monetary damages due to the infringement.

Suppose you have infringed on someone else's name or mark. In that case, you may be ordered to rename your company immediately, give up all profits earned using the unregistered mark, and pay other damages which may include punitive damages, fines, and attorneys' fees. You cannot get attorneys' fees with a state trademark registration.

4. Legal Recourse and Enforcement

As a federal trademark owner who has completed the extensive trademark application process, trademark infringement is the last thing you want to encounter. However, trademark owners can take legal action against infringers by seeking monetary damages and injunctive relief. Some states' laws provide additional protection in an infringement action if the mark is registered with the state.

3. Legal Protection

Federal trademark 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 conduct business nationally. Federal registration helps create a foundation to expand globally for international protection. A federal trademark registration is required before you can apply for trademark protection in other countries.

2. Liability to Registered Owner

If you do not register and there happens to be a registered owner of the same or a 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

A registered trademark creates licensing opportunities. Licensing your trademark to others can create more revenue streams for your business.

Want To Register Your Trademark? Get Legal Advice

Whether you are a small business owner, an entrepreneur, or a startup company, having a federally registered trademark helps ensure the long-term success of protecting your company name and brand identity. Another advantage of registering your trademark is to have the peace of mind it provides.

The same applies to hiring an attorney. The cost of not obtaining legal representation can be quite high if something goes wrong. An attorney can help you navigate filing fees, the difference between TEAS PLUS and TEAS standard, and office actions. Also, your attorney will ensure a thorough trademark search through the United States Patent and Trademark Office's Trademark Electronic Search System. While you can do this on your own, it is much more involved than people realize.

Find a trademark attorney near you to get started. Visit FindLaw's Trademark section for more answers to frequently asked questions about trademarks.

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Contact a qualified business attorney to help you identify how to best protect your business' intellectual property.

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