When building a distinctive business brand, business owners should consider the importance of trademark protection. Federal trademark registration has everything to do with enhancing existing state rights that arise from using a distinctive name, image or logo.
There are numerous benefits of federal registration. Perhaps most importantly, nationwide priority from federal trademark registration protects an owner’s trademark in a much broader geographic area than obtained through mere use. Other benefits include litigation advantages such as:
- The owner’s ability to sue in federal court more easily;
- The possibility of recovering an infringement award for triple the amount of actual damages, plus attorneys’ fees if someone infringes the owner’s mark; and
- A presumption that the mark is valid, that the owner was the first user, and that the owner has continuously used the mark in interstate commerce.
Other tangible benefits include:
- Only those with valid federal registrations are allowed to use the ® symbol;
- The owner of a federal trademark registration can receive invaluable assistance from the U.S. Customs Service against importers of counterfeit or otherwise infringing goods; and
- Federal trademark registration provides a tool to stop “cyber squatters” from taking the owner’s mark for an internet domain name.
Along with the tangible benefits of federal trademark registration, there are several important, intangible benefits. An owner registers a trademark to let the world know that the owner claims rights in the mark to deter infringers. A potential infringer is more likely to be intimidated and a judge or jury is more likely to be convinced by the owner’s position if the owner has a federal trademark registration.
If a business owner considers these benefits worthwhile, the next step is to address whether those marks are capable of federal trademark registration and in what specific international classes of goods and services they should be registered. This determination typically involves an overview of the marks, a search to determine whether any confusingly similar marks are already in use in commerce or actually registered, and a discussion about the specific goods and services branded under the mark. Contact Thomas J. Schlegel if you have any questions regarding trademark protection.
This blog post has been prepared and published for informational purposes only. None of its content should be construed as or relied upon as legal advice. Therefore, no one should act or refrain from acting based on its content. The content is not a substitute for competent legal advice. For legal advice or answers to specific questions, please contact one of our attorneys. Information provided by our attorneys should only be considered legal advice after a formal attorney-client relationship has been established with our law firm and you and confirmed in writing by one of our attorneys.