Many of our clients ask us, “What are the benefits of registering my trademark? Don’t I already own my trademark when I start using it?” Generally speaking, this is a true statement. However, while you do obtain common law rights by using your trademark, our intellectual property law attorneys can tell you that formally registering it provides much greater protection as described here in our Top 10 Reasons to Register Your Trademark.
Reason #1: National Priority. A federal registration provides a trademark broad nationwide use as of the date of the application. Common law rights are limited to a geographic territory which could allow another party to use the trademark in a different geographic area.
Reason #2: Deters Infringers: A registered trademark deters others from using confusingly similar marks by letting others know that your mark exists and has superior rights. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) allows others to search registered trademarks. If they come upon your registered mark, it often does deter the searching party from using a mark similar to yours with the same or similar goods/services. Registered trademarks block confusingly similar trademarks in applications so the searching party can avoid infringement claims again them and their application will not be rejected by the USPTO.
Reason #3: Incontestability. After five years of continuously using your trademark, you can file for incontestability status, providing conclusive evidence regarding the validity of the mark and of the owner’s exclusive right to use the mark. This prevents successful arguments in a lawsuit or administrative hearing that your mark is confusingly similar to another mark.
Reason #4: Use of the ® Symbol. Only federally registered trademarks can use the ® symbol which provides constructive notice that the mark is claimed as an exclusive right. This prevents a defendant from claiming innocent infringement, which could allow them to avoid monetary damages for infringing on your mark.
Reason #5: Litigation Damages. A registered trademark grants the owner the right to seek triple damages and attorney fees, as well as statutory damages for counterfeiting, which can be a very significant benefit if you are forced to pursue damages against an individual or entity for counterfeiting your products as our San Diego business litigation attorneys can attest.
Reason #6: Foreign Registration. A registered trademark provides a basis for foreign registrations which provides protection worldwide.
Reason #7: Automatic Right To Sue. A federal trademark registration provides an automatic right to sue for trademark infringement in federal court.
Reason #8: Customs Assistance. The owner of a federal registration can enlist the assistance of U.S. Customs for counterfeit products.
Reason #9: Exclusivity. A federal registration provides the exclusive right to use the mark nationwide with the goods/services listed.
Reason #10: Ownership. A federal registration presumes that the registered owner is the owner of the mark, a presumption not afforded to common law trademark owners.
Remember, as our experienced intellectual property law attorneys will often tell clients, your trademark is your company’s brand, and typically its most valuable asset. Brand identity and recognition creates customer goodwill and promotes customer satisfaction and sales. It is important to maintain protection of this valuable asset to prevent a situation where others may try to copy your ideas and interrupt your revenue stream. Where infringement does occur, you are in a much stronger position to defend your trademark if it has been registered with the USPTO. Contact our skilled San Diego intellectual property law attorneys for more information or to assist you in protecting your intellectual property rights. Click here for access to the USPTO’s searchable database.