If you have valuable intellectual property or intellectual property that has the potential to be valuable, it is in your interest to register a trademark. Though registering a trademark is not always required, it is better to be safe rather than sorry. Make the effort to register a trademark for your intellectual property and it just might pay big dividends in the future.
What is a Trademark & Who Needs One?
The average person has a number of lines of defense against unexpected life events. From health insurance to renter's insurance, auto insurance and beyond, most people take the precautions necessary to ensure they do not suffer a major financial setback when the unexpected happens. The same should be true for businesses. If you are working on a new business idea or have already launched a business, it is imperative you protect your brand from unexpected events. Trademarks are legal tools that provide such protection for your brand. Though your logos and company name might not seem like assets, the truth is they are indeed assets. Trademarks will prevent others from using your company's assets without your permission.
What Can & Cannot be Trademarked?
Trademarks are commonly used to protect a business's name. However, trademarks are applicable to all forms of intellectual property. People often confuse trademarks with copyrights and patents. Copyrights and patents are meant to safeguard the commercial rights of those who invent products and artistic works. The logic in obtaining a trademark is to prevent others from copying your brand and using it to to sell their own products.
Trademarks listed on the USPTO Principal Register are provided with superior protection compared to unregistered trademarks. If you obtain this enhanced protection, notice will be provided to the public of your claim of ownership to the trademark. Obtaining a trademark will show the world you have full legal ownership of your brand and logo. This will give you the exclusive legal right to use this trademark in Colorado and the rest of the United States in connection with the services and/or goods named in the registration.
If necessary, you will be able to bring legal action in relation to the trademark in federal court. The fact that there is registration for the trademark in the United States serves as a launching pad to obtain registration in other nations. Furthermore, registering your trademark empowers you to file U.S. Registration through Customs Service to stop others from importing goods that infringe on your mark.
When to Register
Once you have selected a name for your business and spent your hard-earned money to market your products/services in association with that name, the last thing you want to do is change it. Think long and hard before registering your trademark. When in doubt, do not hesitate to host a small get-together in which family, friends, and colleagues gather to provide feedback on the name or other intellectual property in question. Once you are certain the name is absolutely perfect, it is time to conduct a query for other similar marks. This query can be performed on the USPTO website. Alternatively, you can also enlist the services of a lawyer or a firm to conduct the search on your behalf.
What's the Process?
The USPTO should be commended for making the trademark registration process fairly easy. The agency provides a guide to trademark registration that will prove extremely helpful. Though the process requires the completion of multiple sub-steps, there is no reason to be intimidated. The first step is to determine the details of the mark. Once you have settled on the mark's nuances, it is time to complete the trademark application as provided through the USPTO website. The USPTO's web forms are quite intuitive. Simply fill out the sections for your name, company information and the description of your unique mark. Filing fees will also have to be submitted with the application. If you are attempting to register an image along with a word mark, the filing fee will increase above the couple hundred dollars necessary for a word mark without an image.
Once your application is submitted, you will likely receive an approval or denial from the USPTO in a couple months' time. In most cases, the USPTO gets back to applicants within 100 days or less. The response will indicate if your application adheres to the necessary legal requirements or if you have to make corrections. The registration process has the potential to prove complicated if another party challenges the mark submitted for approval.
It is possible another business will object to the registration of your mark, arguing the similarity will make it difficult for customers to distinguish between the offerings. If such an issue is raised, a legal proceeding will follow, commonly referred to as trademark prosecution. However, you can bypass such legal conflicts by performing in-depth research prior to attempting to register your mark. If you would like to check the status of your trademark registration application, check out the Trademark Status and Document Retrieval part of the application section of the USPTO website for updates.