Here’s a dirty little secret: you don’t need to register your trademark to have limited trademark protection. As soon as you use a trademark in commerce, you have “common law” protection in it. The biggest downside to common law trademarks is that they are limited in geographic scope. You can only enforce it where you use it.
Of course, the best way to protect your trademark is by registering it with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The benefits of owning a federal trademark registration are substantial.
1. USPTO Feedback
The USPTO will give you feedback about your application within a few months of filing about conflicts with competitors, registrability issues, or other problems that may require choosing a different trademark. One of the most common reasons for the USPTO to reject an application is due to a likelihood of confusion between the applied-for trademark and a preexisting trademark. This is why you need to do a trademark search before filing your application. If you don’t run a trademark search and your application gets rejected, then you can at least take some consolation from the fact that you have been stopped from wasting time and resources on a trademark that cannot be protected.
2. Avoid Disputes Before They Happen
Information on new trademark filings is made available to the public on the USPTO database just a few days after filing. Competitors who do a trademark search the USPTO database before filing will discover your trademark application and will be motivated to choose a different trademark. Competitors will be even more motivated to select a different trademark after your application matures into a registration.
3. Government Protection
The USPTO will reject confusingly similar trademarks from later registration, protecting your brand in the process.
4. Nationwide Priority
The holder of a federal trademark has a right to exclusive nationwide use of that trademark where there was no prior use by others.
5. Incontestable Status
A registered trademark is presumed to be valid, and it becomes incontestable (with certain exceptions) after five years of consecutive post-registration use.
6. Litigation Advantage
Registration allows you to sue in federal court, where a judge may grant injunctions, award damages for infringement and – in some cases – allow you to recover legal fees.
7. Social Networking Enforcement
Federal registration is critical to enforcing rights with social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+.
8. Protection From Counterfeits
The holder of a federal trademark may obtain the assistance of U.S. Customs and Border Protection in restricting importation of infringing or counterfeit goods.
9. Protection From Cybersquatters
Federal trademark registration prevents cybersquatters from pirating your domain name.
10. Foreign Trademark Protection
A federal trademark can serve as a basis for obtaining priority and registrations in foreign countries.
11. Attract Investors
Investors are generally more attracted to companies with a favorable risk/reward profile. Risk is reduced with a trademark registration. Federal trademark protection is also an indicator of established brand value and sound business strategy.
12. Reasonable cost
Our lawyers will develop a custom trademark strategy for your business for $775 that includes a professional trademark search and preparing a federal trademark application.