Your brand isn’t just a part of your business identity—it is your business identity. And as a business owner, you’ve likely invested significant time and resources into developing your brand. To protect your investment, you should seek a federal trademark registration. Below we walk you through our top 10 reasons to register your trademark.
1. Discourages Trademark Infringement
Without a federal trademark registration, your trademark protection is limited to your “common law” rights. These are rights gained through use in commerce within a particular geographic area and will not show up on a trademark search. A federal registration, on the other hand, discourages others from using confusingly similar marks by ensuring the mark is easy to find in a trademark search. This prevents infringement before it happens, thus avoiding consumer confusion and litigation costs.
2. Allows Use of The ® Trademark Symbol
You’ve likely seen the ® trademark symbol in a million different places before. It adds a bit of prestige to the brand and marketing cachet. It’s also a signal to anyone that might seek to model their brand after yours that your brand is off-limits. You don’t want copycat businesses stealing your business and confusing your customers.
3. Provides National Protection for Your Brand
Without registering your trademark, you are limited to enforcing your common law rights in the specific areas where your trademark is used, and potentially in areas within your “natural zone of expansion.” Meaning, you may have no recourse if others use your trademark in different geographic areas. A federal registration, however, provides constructive notice as of the registration date. This prevents competitors from claiming their subsequent adoption of the trademark (or a confusingly similar trademark) was in good faith.
4. Presumes Your Trademark is Valid
A federal registration provides a rebuttable presumption that your trademark is valid, and you are the exclusive owner for the services listed in the registration. To enforce common law rights, on the other hand, you must prove validity and ownership. This presumption helps in enforcing your trademark, protecting your brand, and avoiding litigation.
5. Ensures You are Unique
One of the first things we typically do before applying for a trademark registration is conduct a trademark search. This ensures your trademark is unique and there are no other trademarks closely resembling yours. This is an involved process that takes time and expertise to do correctly.
6. Enlists the USPTO to Enforce Your Rights
A federal registration protects you against registration of confusingly similar marks because the USPTO has a duty to cite prior registrations against applications for confusingly similar marks and to refuse to register such marks. A registration, therefore, acts to enlist the federal government to prevent trademark infringement at no cost to you.
7. Authorizes Additional Damages
A federal registration makes certain damages available, like treble damages and attorneys’ fees, that are not available when enforcing common law rights in court. In addition to making significant monetary recovery available in certain cases, this helps prevent litigation due to the fear of such potential recovery.
8. Allows for Incontestability Status
A federal registration allows for heightened protection after 5 years because the trademark may be declared incontestable, which essentially makes it immune from challenge. Incontestability helps in court proceedings and in quickly convincing others to stop using your trademark (or one that’s confusingly similar) without the need to go to court.
9. Adds Value to Your Business
For minimal upfront cost and renewal fees, registered trademarks are assets that increase in value as your business grows. You may not have any intention of selling your business, especially if you are just starting out, but if that is even a remote possibility, it is helpful to know a trademark can be sold with a business like any other asset. In fact, registered trademarks are often of considerable interest to potential purchasers. A federal registration can even be used as established collateral in financial transactions, and security agreements using registered marks as collateral can be recorded with the USPTO.
10. Protects Against Domain Disputes
If you are ever in a dispute over a website domain name (through the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute Resolution Policy, for example), having a federal registration makes it much easier to succeed.
File Your Trademark Application with Griffith Barbee Today!
Griffith Barbee is experienced in filing and prosecuting trademark applications with the USPTO. Please contact us today to discuss how we can help you file your trademark application.