A U.S. trademark registration has many advantages, with the most important being that it protects against infringement. A federally registered trademark is also a valuable asset with nationwide validity. It can help customers find you amongst the competition, and it can be a springboard for international registration.
As a business owner, you’ve likely invested much of your time and energy into growing your brand. For this reason, it is important to know how to protect that investment. A U.S. trademark registration provides legal protections that allow you to maintain control of your brand. Consider the top 5 advantages of U.S. trademark registration.
1. A Federal Trademark Registration Protects Against Infringement
Maintaining control of your brand is essential to your success as a business owner. One way that businesses lose control of their brand is when other companies use similar names and logos for competing products. When someone else attempts to use your trademark in the marketplace, whether intentionally or unintentionally, it creates a likelihood of confusion among potential customers, and this confusion could sway them away from your business. In order to remain the exclusive user of your mark, you must register with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO.
Once you’ve registered your trademark, you must actively monitor its use. If you find evidence of potential infringement, you should consider taking legal action. Often, a cease-and-desist letter is all that is needed to put a stop to the infringement. In some cases, however, more formal legal action must be taken. You should always consult with a trademark attorney prior to taking legal action. If you take an inappropriate enforcement action you could find counterclaims being made against you and your company.
2. A Federal Trademark Registration Provides Nationwide Validity
In the United States, a business or individual may have some rights to a trademark simply by using the mark in the public domain. These common law rights, however, are limited. A business owner with an unregistered trademark may face challenges when seeking legal action against infringement. In addition, common law rights only apply to the small, geographic region where the business is located. This could lead to issues later on if the business looks to expand to other markets, where a similar mark is already in use.
A federally registered trademark, on the other hand, comes with the presumption of nationwide validity. Registering your trademark with the USPTO provides valuable protection against infringement in all fifty states, not just your region. This means you are able to grow your business and expand to other areas without the fear of infringing on an existing mark. As a registered trademark owner, you will also be able to use the ® symbol, which many potential customers view as an additional layer of validity and professionalism.
3. A Federal Trademark Registration is a Valuable Asset
You’ve likely made many purchases for your business over the course of ownership, from equipment to inventory, technology, and marketing materials. While these investments have been essential to the function of your business, they won’t increase in value over time. A registered trademark, however, is a purchase that will actually increase over time. For very little upfront cost and minimal renewal fees, you will have an asset on your books that increases in value as your business grows.
Your registered trademark may benefit you in the future as well. If you are just starting out, you may not have selling your business on the top of your mind, but it may be helpful to know that a trademark can be sold with a business, just like any other asset. In fact, a registered trademark is typically a requirement of investors or people interested in purchasing a business. Buyers often place a higher value on a business with a registered trademark, as well, knowing that the protections against infringement have already been put in place.
4. Unique Trademarks Helps Customers Find You
A strong online presence is an important part of any business’s marketing plan. With the vast majority of people turning to social media or online search engines to find the goods or services they need, a registered trademark can help you stand out from the crowd. A strong trademark should be memorable and easily recognized. This way, your customers will be able to sort through your crowded industry to locate you initially, and they should be able to easily find your website and social media platforms through a search of your mark.
As you grow your business, it is helpful to know that, as a registered trademark owner, you have online rights to your mark as well. Unfortunately, some bad actors attempt to acquire domain names with the intent to sell the domains to business owners at much higher prices. The Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act was established to protect registered trademark owners in domain name disputes. A person doing business without a registered trademark, however, may not have the same rights to take action against cybersquatters.
5. A Federal Trademark Registration is a Springboard to International Registration
The legal protections provided by a federally registered trademark are invaluable, but they only cover disputes that occur within the United States. In order to gain trademark protection internationally, you must register your trademark in other countries. When filing an international trademark application, you have two main choices. The first is to file through the Madrid Protocol, an international treaty that allows registrants to file a single application which can then be applied to more than 90 member countries. The first step to file a trademark using the Madrid Protocol, however, is to first register with the USPTO.
Another way to file trademarks in other countries is to do so through local counsel in each individual country. If you choose to file your trademark directly with each country’s trademark office, your U.S. trademark registration can also be a springboard to international trademark protection. The date you register with the USPTO will become your priority date in other countries (if you file the international trademark applications within six months of your US filing). This is a significant advantage, as it deters others from registering your mark in other countries, like China and India, where bad faith registrations are on the rise.
The Benefits of U.S. Trademark Registration
Though there are fees associated with registering and renewing a trademark over time, the benefits far outweigh the expense. Protection against infringement is a valuable advantage of trademark registration that ensures your brand remains in your control. Your registered trademark has nationwide validity, and as your business grows, so will the value of the mark. A strong trademark will be memorable and help customers find you in a crowded marketplace as well. Finally, your registration with the USPTO could be a springboard for international registration. Contact an experienced trademark attorney today to learn more about the benefits of trademark registration.