Have you ever wondered why it is important for your business or nonprofit to register a trademark? What is the benefit to you? In this article, we will share exactly why you should invest in registering a federal trademark to protect your brand.
Why register a trademark?
Businesses with a strong local reputations must take action to register their trademarks to protect their rights in a brand name, as branding strategies are becoming increasingly international. Preferably, registration should be done when a business is setup so that you are not limited when it comes to expanding the territory that your company serves. When setting up a new business, you cannot base your decision to use a name off of if the domain name is available for purchase. Just because a company did not purchase the domain name for its company name, does not mean that it has not already established trademark rights in the name.
How can you legally protect yourself?
At Chisholm Law Firm, our trademark attorney performs a Comprehensive Name Search and conducts prior name availability research before our client’s invest large amounts of time and money on initial branding. This ensures that the name that they are planning to build their local, regional, or national brand around is not already owned by someone else. Knowing that the name that your business or nonprofit is using is available can help reduce the risk of trademark infringement lawsuits from the rightful owner of a name.
You may also wonder what the various symbols mean as it relates to trademarks that you see on a daily basis. How do you know the ones that are registered versus the ones that are not? A trademark may be designated by the following symbols:
- ™ (the “trademark symbol”, known as the letters “TM”, is used to represent trademarks that have not been registered with the United States Patent & Trademark Office “USPTO”)
- ℠ (known as the letters “SM” in superscript, are used to denote a mark for a service based company that has not registered with the USPTO)
- ® (the letter “R” with a circle around it means that this mark is a registered trademark with the USPTO)
These are some common examples of marks that cannot be registered as a trade mark:
- Marks that are descriptive (e.g. super, best, cheap, one dozen)
- Marks that are common to your trade (ones that have become well accepted in relation to your trade and do not distinguish the goods or service you are offering)
- Marks that could offend or promote immoral behavior
- Deceptive marks (these marks can erroneously state the quality of their services or goods, the type of services or goods offered, as well as the actual location or origination of those goods or services)
- Marks that are the same as marks that were previously registered and have not been abandoned
- Marks that could cause confusion (similar or identical to an earlier mark and in relation to similar or identical goods or services provided by the owners of the earlier mark)
- Marks that are exactly the same as popular or widely identifiable marks
Protect Yourself and Your Business
However, one of the best ways to legally protect you and your business as it relates to trademarks is to hire an attorney to check to see whether the mark you wish to register is similar or identical to an earlier mark. This is accomplished by conducting a Comprehensive Name Search that examines all of the common law names, business names registered in all 50 states that have available databases as well as trademarks registered in both state registries and the federal register. This should be done before you file your trademark application.
We Want to Hear from You
Our Trademark attorney has extensive experience in registering and researching trademarks for a range of industries. For more information on whether your business’s brand name, phrase or logo, could be registered as a trademark or how to register a trademark please contact our trademark attorney.