Whether you are starting a new brand or have an existing one, getting a Registered Trademark is one of the most important steps you can take to protect your brands! A Trademark identifies a single source of origin for your goods or services and gives you a mechanism for distinguishing your goods and services from those of others. Most importantly, it provides you with the right to prevent others from adopting a similar name and/or logo likely to cause confusion among the marketplace.
- Types of Trademarks
In the United States, a Trademark can be a word, name, symbol or a device, and in some circumstances, it can be a color, a sound, or a scent. For example, among John Deer has a Trademark on their signature color green or the popular jewelry store Tiffany & Co. has a trademark for their famous “Tiffany Blue.” Other famous Trademarks include the Nike Swoosh, Apple’s gray apple, the MacDonald’s golden arches, and the NFL shield.
For brand owners getting a registered trademark for your business name, your brands, and your logos are steps you need to take to protect your reputation and intellectual property.
- Trademark Requirements
Just having a brand is not enough to qualify for a Trademark. Your brand must be both distinctive, and it must be used in “interstate commerce.” Distinctiveness is the ability of your brand to identify you as the single source of goods or services. Interstate Commerce achieved when your brand is used to sell your product or services among multiple states. This is important because if you’re a local shop, you may not qualify for Federal Trademark if you only offer your goods and services within your State. That said it may still be possible for you to get State-level protection.
- Eligibility for Registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Not all words, symbols and logos can be registered as a trademark. The USPTO, regulations have certain subject matters that may not be registered under ant circumstances including: marks likely to cause confusion with a previously used or registered mark, deceptive matter, function matters, matter that falsely suggests a connection with a person or institution, government insignia, or names/portraits and signatures identifying living individuals without their written consent. Additionally, certain brands may only be registered after a showing of acquired distinctiveness such as merely descriptive goods or services, primarily geographically descriptive, and primarily a surname.
- Advantages of having a registered trademark.
Registering your brand as a federal trademark with the USPTO comes with a multitude of advantages when it comes to enforcing your rights. A registered trademark carries with it evidence that your trademark is valid and you or your company have ownership of that mark. Additional registration advantages include nationwide use of the mark, statutory removers for infringement claims such as treble damages and recovery of attorney’s fees and costs, the right to use ®, and after 5 years your mark can become incontestable. For brand owners of goods, after registration, you may file your mark(s) with US Customs to stop the importation of infringing/counterfeit goods.
- Avoid Online Trademark Services
Every day I notice Facebook ads and google ads postings stating they will file your trademark for $69.99, and so many people are tagging their friends, and sharing the posts because they think they are getting such a great deal. It’s time to stop and read the fine print on the ads. These online services are not law firms, nor do they have attorneys looking at your filings and offering you a legal option. In fact, one of these services state on the FAQ section of their website “is not a law firm and none of the information on this website constitutes or is intended to convey legal advice.”
So what do you get for $69.99 service (plus filing fees), they do a direct hit search, and that’s it. In fact, as you move up the services offered, the basic, standard and deluxe packages are all the same, it’s a direct hit search. What does this mean exactly? They type in your mark into USPTO trademark search engine and see what comes up if nothing they file your mark. However, just doing a direct search is not doing you justice! This is why hiring a law firm is the correct way to go! Press Start Legal doesn’t just do a direct search, we do a full knock out in your class of goods for all marks that may be similar to yours. Why does this matter? While a direct search may show it’s clear, our type of search will uncover any mark that is similar. A similar mark can cause confusion in the marketplace and may prevent you from filing your mark, or worse may subject you to infringement actions down the road.
Another issue with these online trademark services, is if for any reason the USPTO examiner issues an office action regarding your applied mark for any reason, the trademark services company will say so sorry, get a lawyer to handle this! Don’t be fooled by cheap deals, and hire Press Start Legal to handle all of your trademark needs!