A unique business name, product name, or logo can give you a real advantage over the competition in the marketplace. With continued promotion, consumers will see the name or logo and immediately understand that the related goods or services come from a trusted source – YOU!
It is extremely important to safeguard that advantage by protecting the names or logos you have worked hard to develop and promote from being used by anyone else that may want to sell goods or services similar to yours. The best way to do this is by registering your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
While “common law” trademark rights do exist as soon as you start using the trademark in commerce, your rights are much stronger if you obtain a federal registration with the USPTO. You can generally only enforce common law rights to a trademark in the geographic area where the goods or services originate. That coverage area is generally no larger than the state where you or your business are located.
Common law trademark rights were established long before there was a World Wide Web – and they have not progressed with technology. So, if you do not have a federal registration for your trademark then you do not have nationwide protection or the ability to stop people or businesses in other states from using a trademark similar to yours in connection with the same types of goods or services that you are selling – even though you are advertising your goods or services for sale using the internet.
The good news is that federal registration is an option for any trademark used in interstate commerce – and most modern business ventures qualify as interstate commerce due to the use of a website which promotes the goods or services to potential customers just about anywhere.
Federal registration offers numerous advantages, including:
- Nationwide public notice of your claim to the trademark through a listing in the USPTO’s official online database
- A legal presumption that you own the trademark and that you have the exclusive right to use it nationwide concerning your goods or services
- The use of the U.S. trademark registration as a basis for obtaining registration in foreign countries
- The ability to record the trademark registration with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods
The federal trademark registration process can be complicated. However, it is definitely worth the effort when you have a business name, product name, or logo that distinctly identifies your business or the goods or services you sell.
I am extremely passionate about this area of the law and would love to help you secure your advantage in the marketplace. Please check out McCarty Law’s Trademark Law & Intellectual Property page for more information on how I can help!
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