*Please note that while Gerben Law Firm, PLLC is not located in Ohio, it can assist businesses from Toledo in registering a federal trademark because it is a federal matter.
For businesses in Toledo, Ohio, as in the rest of the nation, registering a trademark is a critical component of taking every safeguard possible for the strength and protection of your brand and company name. With a history as a hotbed of manufacturing of all types – from automotive to glassware – and a continuing resurgence in those areas, Toledo, OH is poised to experience a wealth of new companies looking to establish themselves. With the competition that comes from trying to gain a foothold in the marketplace – regardless of what industry you’re in – it’s important to have the protections of a trademark should you experience any infringement or attempt by another business to profit or benefit off of your name and reputation.
Another industry that’s seeing gains in Toledo, OH is green energy and certification. Much like traditional manufacturing, the green industry has nationwide implications, and it’s likely that businesses in those industries will be engaged in commerce far beyond Toledo, OH. Regardless of what industry your Toledo, OH business is in – manufacturing, green, or otherwise – registering a federal trademark is always a good idea, as it gives you broader coverage than a local trademark and allows you the freedom to conduct interstate business with confidence and less worry of infringing, or being infringed upon.
Gerben Law Firm, LLC, although not based in Toledo, OH, can assist you with registering a federal trademark through the United States Patent & Trademark Office. Business owners may still be wondering why they should file a federal trademark application, however. Here are five reasons why they should.
1) You ensure that the name belongs to you alone.
Once you’ve successfully registered your trademark, you gain the protection of being the only one allowed to use your mark in your industry. Registering your mark also, however, ensures that no one was using the name before you – a situation that could cause problems for you. You get this assurance because you’ll need to conduct extensive trademark research prior to submitting your trademark application.
Without this research stage, it’s possible that you might continue using an unregistered mark, not knowing that someone else has it registered, or has established prior usage – for instance, someone outside of Toledo, OH. You likely wouldn’t know you were infringing upon that other entity until they notified you – possibly through legal proceedings. In any case, you’d most likely need to cease using your mark and choose a new one, losing out on time spent building your reputation.
2) You establish use in commerce.
A trademark application serves as a recorded date of use in commerce for your mark (once your mark is successfully registered, the date of application will retroactively apply as your date of priority). With unregistered marks, it’s very difficult to establish a date of first use, should the question of priority arise, and it puts you in a situation where you may have the facts on your side but be unable to prove them. A trademark registration clears up these questions and gives you greater support in the eyes of the USPTO.
3) You gain more legal leverage.
With a registered trademark, you have broader protections as well as more legal options should you believe another party is infringing upon you. For instance, with a registered trademark, you can formally challenge any mark submitted to the USPTO if you feel that it’s too close to yours. Unregistered trademarks do not hold this privilege. As a registered trademark owner, you can also bring an infringement case to federal court and have a greater potential to collect damages, should you lose out on business or profits as a result of infringement.
4) You gain national protection.
With an unregistered trademark, you only have limited common-law rights of protection, and they aren’t likely to extend beyond Toledo, OH. A local trademark will only cover the state of Ohio. Filing for a federal trademark gives you the maximum amount of protection nationwide, for interstate commerce – a prudent tactic in the day and age of e-commerce, internet marketing, and online sales outlets. You can save yourself additional paperwork, time, and effort down the road by filing for a federal trademark from the outset.
5) You provide public notice of your ownership of the mark.
A few things happen once your trademark application is accepted by the USPTO and your trademark becomes registered. First, it gets published on their Principal Register, meaning that anyone searching for registered trademarks will see it there. This is a powerful deterrent to infringement and trademark challenges – it shows that your business name is protected under federal law.
Second, you are able to stop using the small “TM” letters with your mark, and begin using the small “R” in a circle – this is yet another notice to the public that your mark is federally registered.
By registering your mark and using it correctly, you become entitled to all of these benefits. When you consider the damages and loss of reputation that can befall your business should you need to change your name or battle trademark challenges from others, it becomes clear how important it is to register a federal trademark.