“Filing a trademark application at the USPTO starts a legal proceeding that may be complex and will require you to comply with all requirements of the trademark statute and rules. Most applicants hire an attorney who specializes in trademark matters to represent them in the application process and provide legal advice.”
A statement from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
A trademark or service mark (®, TM, SM) is a legal mechanism that protects brand names and logos used to promote or identify goods and services. A trademark can be a word, phrase, symbol, sound, design, color, or a combination thereof. Trademarks are created to identify the sources of goods or services, and to carry the good will associated with the name of those sources. They are legally protected through Federal Registration (recommended) and common law use.
A trademark is usually applied to the goods offered by a company. A service mark is generally applied to services that are offered. Trademarks and Service Marks are essentially the same and often are jointly referred to simply as trademarks.
When your Trademark is registered with the United States Patent and Trademark office, your product or service lawfully may carry the ® symbol. This is the preferred method of trademark identification because if provides notice that the mark enjoys a federal level of protection.
However, you can establish common law rights simply by using it. Under these circumstances, you should use the symbol TM or SM with your brand name, logo, or service as a sign of limited protection of your mark. You MAY NOT use the ® symbol since that SYMBOL INDICATES federal registratioN AND UNREGISTERED USE COULD RESULT IN DIMINISHED ENFORCEABILITY.
“Owning a federal trademark registration on the Principal Register provides a number of significant advantages over common law rights alone, including:
- A legal presumption of your ownership of the mark and your exclusive right to use the mark nationwide on or in connection with the goods/services listed in the registration;
- Public notice of your claim of ownership of the mark;
- Listing in the USPTO’s online databases;
- The ability to record the U.S. registration with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods (ed. note: “knockoffs”);
- The right to use the federal registration symbol “®”;
- The ability to bring an action concerning the mark in federal court; and
- The use of the U.S. registration as a basis to obtain registration in foreign countries.”
Right up front, your HPKD Trademark Attorney can tell you whether your Trademark is, in fact, a Trademark, and whether it is registrable but not necessarily if they may obtain a registration.
- Your Attorney can advise you about what is needed to file for registration. For example, must you file for registration in color or black & white? An incorrect filing can cause unnecessary loss of rights, costs and delays.
- The process of obtaining a registration of your Trademark can be complex. You avoid difficulties by using an HPKD Attorney.
- Your Attorney understands the ins and outs of the Trademark Office’s electronic searching and filing systems.
- Your Attorney can help you avoid pitfalls of the Trademark Electronic Application System.
- Delays can occur. Your Attorney understands the procedures and can track your application’s path through the duration of the application and registration process.
- Approval is not automatic. Your Attorney may need to contact the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board and make it happen in order to get your mark registered.
- Do you know that you must file additional Trademark documents after five, six, or even ten years after registration in order to avoid abandonment?
- Are you concerned about foreign infringement of your Trademark? Ask your Attorney for additional help recording your trademark with U.S. Customs and Border Protection in order to keep knockoffs from entering your market.
You have worked tirelessly to provide your customers with the best quality goods and services possible. Don’t let your competitors enjoy a free ride on your reputation. Protect yourself!
Proper branding along with trademark protection and enforcement serve to help reduce the risk of someone else unfairly profiting from, or even ruining your company’s hard-earned reputation. Let us help you handcraft and implement a trademark strategy that’s customized to your company’s unique combination of needs and goals.
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