This is the second in a series of posts about the benefits of having your trademark registered.
One of the most compelling reasons to register a trademark is the exclusive rights it confers upon the owner.
Unregistered “common law” rights
Without registration, there are some “common law” trademark rights, but those rights are limited.
- They can be limited to a small geographic area.
- You can’t use them to bring a lawsuit for infringement in federal court.
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection can’t use them to stop importation of infringing goods.
- You can’t use the ® symbol with them (you can only use the TM symbol)
- It’s not as easy for others to find records of your use, so conflicting use by others is more likely.
- There is no legal presumption you are the proper owner of the trademark rights.
What about state registration?
State registration of trademarks only confers the benefits of registration in the state in which the trademark is registered. If you are engaged in regional or national business using your trademarks, that protection is insufficient, and it’s cumbersome to register and maintain trademarks in multiple states.
State registration is appropriate, though, if you are using your trademark only within a particular state. In fact, if you aren’t using it outside of that state, you can’t get federal registration. There are many ways your mark may be used in “interstate commerce” despite your business being located only in one state, however, so it’s good to consult an attorney about whether your use qualifies for federal registration.
Legal benefits of federal registration
Federal trademark registration provides the maximum legal protection for trademarks, granting the owner the exclusive right to use the mark nationally for the goods or services it represents. This means that no one else can use a similar or identical mark that could lead to consumer confusion.
- The public is put on official notice of your registration of rights through the USPTO’s public trademark database. This prevents any defense of good faith lack of knowledge.
- You can use the ® symbol, which also puts the public on notice of your federal registration.
- The USPTO will prevent others from registering an identical or similar trademark for identical or similar goods or services.
- You can sue in federal court for infringement and counterfeiting and sometimes obtain triple damages.
- You can use the registration as a basis for foreign country registrations.
- You can record the registration with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, who can use it to stop importation of infringing goods.
- You can use the registration to have infringing domains, social media handles, etc. taken down.
- You can participate in sales platforms like Amazon Brand Registry.
Learn more about trademarks and how King Business and Patent Law, PLLC can help you develop, register, maintain, and enforce your trademarks and maximize their value at https://kingpatentlaw.com/trademarks.
Next: Essential Benefits of Trademark Registration – Part 3
Clarity Amidst Chaos: Preventing Brand Confusion Through Trademark Registration
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