In an earlier post, I discussed some of the differences between common law trademark rights, and the rights that you receive through trademark registration. Many business owners are not even aware of trademark law, or the need to protect their marks. And some owners that are aware of trademarks assume that their common law trademark rights are sufficient to protect them. But if you register your trademark, it expands your rights in many ways that are almost always worth the additional cost.
One benefit that a trademark registration gives you is the right to use the ® symbol with your mark. This puts others on notice that you have registered your mark with the Trademark Office. When used in combination with your mark, it makes it easier to obtain monetary damages should you have to file a trademark infringement lawsuit. Of course, use of the ® symbol with your trademark must be limited to the products and/or services you register with your mark.
Perhaps the biggest benefit that a trademark registration provides is that it expands your trademark rights to the entire United States. Common law rights, on the other hand, are limited to the geographic region where you regularly use the mark in commerce. So once you have your trademark registration, you will have rights across the U.S. that date back to your trademark application filing date. This is important because most businesses will want to grow and expand to different parts of the U.S. where their common law rights to a mark have not been established.
You can also register your trademark to prevent confusingly similar marks from being registered. So applications for similar marks that are filed after you have filed your application will not be allowed to proceed to registration. And if you already have a registration, applications for similar marks will be denied on the basis of your existing registration. This makes the application filing date a very important one, because anyone else that applies to register a similar mark after your filing date will be denied by the Trademark Office.
Speaking of the application filing date, you can actually apply to register a mark to reserve rights before you can establish common law rights. If you file on an Intent-To-Use basis, your rights are still established as of the application filing date, despite the fact that you do not yet have use of the mark. If you file this way, your application may not register for years (and you may not have use for years), but you will still get the benefit of your filing date. And others will not be able to register their confusingly similar marks if they filed their applications after you.
Finally, a trademark registration has tremendous value for any business. It ensures that they are able to expand within the U.S. It is also something that becomes very important in the case of a sale. A potential buyer will view trademark registrations as an important asset. Trademark registrations are like insurance, and a buyer will want to make sure that the name and brand they are purchasing is secure. Without the registration, the risk of a trademark infringement lawsuit is greater. If they buy the business, but the business is later ordered to change its name as a result of an infringement suit, then they have lost much of the value from their purchase. However, purchasing a business with trademark registrations for its marks is much less risky.
Would You Like to Register Your Trademark?
If you are not sure whether it makes sense to register your mark, or if you have decided to register but need help, please feel free to call me at (314) 479-3668, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or complete the contact form found on this page to schedule your free initial consultation today. I look forward to speaking with you.