When a person starts a business, they will need to decide whether any part of the business needs trademark registration. In this article, we will give a brief overview of trademarks are and how to register one.

What is a Trademark?

The legal definition of a trademark in the United States Patent and Trademark Office is “something that distinguishes the source of goods”. A trademark can be a name, word, phrase symbol, and/or design.  A trademark is essentially what differs one company from its competitors.

Do Trademarks Expire?

No, trademarks have no time limit. Once a person registers a trademark, the owner of the trademark may use it indefinitely. That is, as long as the holder uses it for the same purpose as they originally describe.

Do Trademarks Need to be Officially Registered?

No, a business or individual does not need to register a trademark to use it. A business or individual can establish ownership of a trademark through the use of the trademark.  If a business or individual decides to establish ownership of a trademark through usage, they will have a more difficult time defending the trademark if someone else attempts to use it as well.

What are the Benefits of Registering a Trademark?

There are numerous benefits of registering a trademark.  Some of the benefits are as follows:

  • Public notice. By registering a trademark, there is an undeniable notice to the public-at-large of who the rightful owner of the trademark is.
  • Listed in the United States Patent and Trademark Office database. A due diligence search of a trademark should be conducted before using one to avoid liability if the trademark belongs to someone else. By being listed in the United States Patent and Trademark database, it will help ensure that no one will accidentally try to use or register your trademark.
  • Evidence of ownership. If a legal dispute ever arises regarding the trademark, registering the trademark provides legal evidence as to ownership.
  • Protection against counterfeiter. By having a registered trademark, the United States Customs and Border Protection will assist in preventing foreign counterfeiters from importing counterfeit products using the trademark.
  • Right to use ® symbol
  • Right to sue or defend in federal court as opposed to state court
  • Ability to register the trademark in other countries, as long as they have signed trademark treaties with the United States.

Registering a Trademark

Following these steps to properly register a trademark:

  • Firstly, perform due diligence search to ensure that the trademark is not already in use.
  • Then, identify or create the trademark.
  • Then, identify the type of business, good, and/or services to associate with the trademark.
  • Additionally, determine a reason for filing the trademark.
  • Finally, apply for the trademark through the Trademark Electronic Application System.

In Conclusion

Although a person can research, register, and file for a trademark on themselves, it is recommended to consult an attorney.  Importantly, a trademark is something that will be used to identify a business for many years to come. The best way a business owner can know that their trademark has proper protection is by using an attorney to file for the trademark.  The attorneys at Dowd Law have years of experience in assisting their clients in filing for trademarks.  Contact Dowd Law today to discuss the process of registering your trademark.