We have arrived at that time of the year when surprises are the norm. Although you may be playfully fooled by a friend, coworker or relative, you don’t want to be painfully fooled when it comes to the importance of protecting your brand. As we’ve discussed here on our blog before, building a brand is among the more difficult things to do in business. What’s more, branding plays a huge role in the overall success of a business. For these reasons, you should be very concerned about protecting your brand and making sure that competitors don’t unlawfully borrow your hard work.
In this post, we will spell out a few of the concrete benefits which follow from formally registering your trademark with the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO). We’ve discussed the general importance of trademark registration in the past, but today we will lay out the benefits in a more systematic way. Simply put, registering your mark with the USPTO is the best way to avoid unpleasant surprises.
The Special Benefits of Registered Marks
• Benefit #1: Protection Across Geographic Areas
Whenever you begin using a mark, you automatically gain certain rights, even if you don’t get around to registering this mark. If you have an unregistered mark, you will have some degree of protection within your immediate geographic area. However, you will encounter more difficulty when it comes to protecting your mark throughout the rest of the country. Registering your mark with the USPTO will provide you with protection throughout the entire country, not just within your limited area.
• Benefit #2: Notice to Infringers
When you register your mark, the USPTO puts your registration in a public record which can be viewed by anyone throughout the country. This provides a form of notice to the general public about your ownership of the mark. The effect of this publication is that any “good faith” defense by a potential infringer is necessarily eliminated. This makes litigation easier, and it also acts as a deterrent against infringement in general.
• Benefit #3: Concrete Legal Benefits
The registration of a mark also provides certain legal benefits. The Lanham Act is the primary law which governs trademarks throughout the country. Under this act, registered trademarks are accorded certain rights which make preventing infringement easier and more cost-effective in court. For instance, the registration of a mark counts as evidence of its validity; this means that the accused infringer has the burden of establishing that infringement did not occur. If the registration didn’t shift the burden of proof in this manner, enforcing trademark rights could be considerably more expensive for brand owners.
• Benefit #4: Enhanced Status After 5 Years
After 5 years of continuous use, registered trademark owners are eligible to convert the state of their registered mark to “incontestable.” An incontestable mark has an additional set of legal protections which go above those mentioned in the preceding paragraph. Essentially, those who call into question the validity of the owner’s mark will have a very difficult task in court. Aside from maintaining the mark for 5 years, the registered owner needs to sign a sworn statement in order to achieve the incontestable status.
• Benefit #5: Layer of Protection from the USPTO
When you register your mark, the USPTO will actually provide a layer of protection simply by screening new trademark registration applicants based on similarity with your mark. If the USPTO finds a newly proposed mark to be too similar to your mark, they may reject the mark on those grounds. This provides an initial layer of protection against infringement which unregistered marks simply don’t have.
Contact the Trembly Law Firm to Learn More
Believe it or not, there are even more benefits provided by registering your trademark. These are just a few of the more significant benefits you should know about. If you work hard and develop a successful brand, the last thing you want is to be struck by an unpleasant surprise that your brand has been abused by another company. Taking the time to register the mark is well worth the effort. To learn more, get in touch with a trademark lawyer at the Trembly Law Firm today by calling (305) 985-4580.