Should I Register My Trademark?

Should I Register My Trademark?

Starting a business typically means juggling a slew of priorities, and the legal side of entrepreneurship can be overwhelming and intimidating. The team of legal counselors at Counxel has spent their career helping small business owners establish and protect their trademarks. 

Your trademark is one of the first impressions a customer will have of your brand, and it ensures your hard work belongs to you from day one. Defending your mark and protecting your brand should be at the top of your priority list, and the legal experts at Counxel are ready to help you through every step of that process!

Choose a Strong Trademark

Aside from ease of registration, your chosen trademark should be strong; after all, it is the first impression a potential customer has of your brand. A strong mark also protects you against infringement. There are a few categories of trademarks to become familiar with when choosing one for your business:

Register Your Trademark

While using your mark in business advertising may give you common law protections, those protections are actually very limited. To obtain complete trademark protection, you need to register with the USPTO. This requires a few extra steps, but it’s the best way to protect your brand. Before applying you should be able to demonstrate to the USPTO that you have been using the mark in actual commerce. This can be something as simple as using it on your website or the advertisements you’re already running.

The date you file your application, known as your priority date, will be the day that no one else can register a similar mark. When submitting your application, make sure you specifically identify the type of product or service the trademark will represent. It’s important to remember that your trademark only covers products and services listed accurately in your application. This is why it helps to work with an attorney who will be able to make sure your application is as thorough as possible.

Should You Register a Trademark Internationally?

Unfortunately, the trademark protections you have through the USPTO will not hold up in other countries. This means that the first person to register your mark in any given country will likely be granted the rights. Without international trademark protections, it will be difficult (and in some cases impossible) to protect against counterfeiters and achieve global business expansion. This is a good time to consult with your legal team on your long-term goals for your business and evaluate if this is a concern.

Keep Your Trademark Use Consistent

Your trademark protections are only valid if you continue to use your registered trademark. Consistent use of the same words or logo as they were originally registered is a necessity. Using your mark inconsistently weakens your protections and could place you at risk in the event of an infringement. Though your trademark will never terminate, as long as you continue to use it, you will need to complete various maintenance filings over time.

Use Accurate Trade Symbols

The use of the ™ symbol may cause some to believe your business has a registered trademark, but this is not entirely true. While the TM symbol is indicative of a “common law” trademark, it does not mean the USPTO has officially and formally registered your mark. However, you can use the TM symbol prior to and once you file your application. Once your mark has been registered, you should begin using the ® symbol everywhere your products or services are displayed. This is a prominent visual reminder to the public that your mark is federally registered and protected.

Be Diligent

To assert your rights as a trademark holder and protect your brand and business reputation, you need to monitor any possible instance of its use. Setting up a Google Alert for your trademark name will automatically prompt an email notification to you any time related to your trademark appears on the internet. We also recommend conducting regular searches for similar names throughout your industry or location.

What to Do When You Think Your Mark Has Been Infringed

While the USPTO formally and legally registers your trademark, they are not responsible for enforcing it. In order to protect your trademark, you must police it and report infringement.

A good first step if you find infringement is to confer with your attorney and discuss sending an official cease and desist letter. This puts the trademark infringer on notice and creates clear documentation for both parties. If the cease and desist isn’t effective, you can consider these actions:

When to Get an Attorney for Trademark Infringement

Once you have chosen a strong mark and registered with the USPTO, you can feel confident in the safety a registered trademark provides. However, to completely protect your trademark, maintain your deadlines and monitor unauthorized use we recommend working with a skilled trademark attorney. 

At Counxel, our attorneys have experience protecting business owners and the hard work put into a brand. If you’re considering a new trademark or seeking protection for an active mark, we can advise you on the next steps and walk you through the process with ease.

* This article is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice for your specific situation. Use of and access to this article does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Counxel Legal Firm.

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