Don’t Get Fooled by Unregistered Trademarks

Everyone loves to play April Fool’s pranks this time of year, but it’s important that business owners realize that trademark registration is no joke! For various reasons, some business owners choose not to go through the process of formally registering their trademark with the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO). This is true even though most business owners understand that brand protection is vitally important. In this post, we will discuss the reasons why some businesspeople forego the registration process and highlight the reasons why you should insist on registering your trademark with the USPTO.

The Potential Appeal of Unregistered Trademarks

There are several reasons why a business owner may be fooled into thinking that an unregistered mark will suffice. For one thing, unregistered marks still offer a certain level of protection for business owners. Whenever a business begins using a particular mark – a slogan, brand, logo, design, etc. – that mark will automatically provide the user with certain rights. As long as the business is engaged in a legitimate activity, that business will be able to guard against infringement by competitor businesses. The Lanham Act, the fundamental law on trademarks in the U.S., recognizes this protection of unregistered marks.

Additionally, unregistered marks are less expensive and less time-consuming in the short-term. These things can be especially attractive to young businesses which have limited capital. When you register a mark with the USPTO, you have to pay an up-front fee; what’s more, the whole process can take many months to complete, and typically requires quite a few hours of labor. These costs, while not outrageous, can be difficult to absorb for some businesses. Unregistered marks offer a simpler alternative.

Unregistered Marks Come with Additional Risk

Although unregistered marks may have an attractiveness in some ways, it’s vital for business owners to understand that leaving a mark unregistered carries certain risks. For one thing, unregistered marks don’t offer the same level of protection against infringement when compared with registered marks. Unregistered marks tend to offer protection within a more limited environment, whereas registered marks can provide protection throughout the whole country. Registered marks are published by the USPTO in a public record, and so they are accessible to literally anyone in the United States. This public record gives notice to competitors and deters infringement.

Perhaps most importantly, registering a mark gives the mark a presumption of validity in the eyes of the law. This presumption of validity means that the accused infringer will have a greater burden by needing to show that the registered mark is invalid. Dealing with such a burden can often be extremely time-consuming and costly. So, though registered marks come with costs upfront, they can end up being much more cost-efficient in the long run.

Trademark infringement is a fairly common occurrence. The best way to protect your brand and the future of your company is to register your trademark with the USPTO. If you leave your mark unregistered, you may see some immediate benefits, but these short-term benefits can be outweighed by the greater risk which unregistered marks involve. If you don’t maximize your protection, you could end up losing to an infringer, and jeopardize the health of your business. Registering your mark will literally decrease the probability of infringement altogether.

Reach Out to Trembly Law for Additional Resources

We may be in the season of fools, but that doesn’t mean you should fall under the spell of unregistered trademarks. Do yourself a favor and give serious consideration to trademark registration today. If you need additional information, reach out to the Trembly Law Firm today by calling 305-985-4580.

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