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Although unregistered trademarks receive some protection under the common law and under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. §§1051 et seq., trademarks can be further protected through registration under both state and federal laws. Federal trademark registration provides significant additional substantive and procedural rights.
1. You Legally Own The Mark
This means the trademark owner has full ownership of the mark nationwide and exclusive rights to use the mark nationwide or in connection with the goods/services listed in the registration (compared to state registration where only state rights are granted, and common law rights exist only for the specific area where the mark is used). A legal presumption of ownership of the mark is established.
2. You Can Pursue Legal Actions Against Infringers
If a competing business uses your trade name, there's not much you can do about it. A trade name grants you only the rights to use the name in documents and as business identification. You might be able to take action at the state level, but that becomes complicated if the competing business is operating from a different state.
Federal trademark holders can sue infringers in federal court. Pursuing legal actions against infringers in federal court allows the register trademark owner to obtain monetary remedies, including infringer's profits, damages, costs, and in some cases, treble damages and attorneys' fees.
3. Public Notice Of Your Claim Of Ownership Of The Mark
Your trademark will appear in searches and thus act as a bar to registration of another mark that may cause confusion to consumers due to the similarities of the competing marks. Having a registered trademark creates a public record of ownership rights. Before a company can apply for a trademark, it must first conduct a trademark search using the USPTO database.
If a company wishes to file a trademark that you already own, they will see it in the database search. Since the USPTO is publicly accessible, companies cannot claim ignorance of your trademark ownership. This can help save you on the costs of potentially defending your trademark rights against infringers.
4. Prevent Against Imported Goods
A U.S. trademark by itself does not affect international companies, except in one important way. Many foreign companies export their goods to the U.S. When you hold federal trademark rights, those foreign companies cannot use your trademark when selling their imported goods in the U.S.
5. Easier Path To International Rights
A registered trademark also allows the trademark owner to obtain international trademark registrations in foreign countries. So if you want to expand your business beyond the U.S., it would be much easier to obtain trademark protection in foreign countries if you already own the U.S. trademark rights.
6. Use Of ® Symbol
Only companies that have acquired a federal trademark can use the ® symbol. Any company can use the trademark symbol (™), or service mark symbol (℠), but it would be a violation of federal law for any non-registered entity to use the ® symbol.
7. Able To Police The Use Of The Mark By Other Companies
This allows registered trademark owners to monitor the use of marks by other companies and prevent competitors from using similar marks.
8. Prevent Against Trademark Trolls
In some scenarios, “trolls” (or “squatters”) apply for trademarks that are used by brand owners in other countries with the goal of forcing those owners to negotiate with the trolls when the enter the new market.
Did you know that if you accidentally infringe on someone else's trademark you could be sued by the trademark owner and have to pay them all of the profits gained while accidentally infringing on their mark plus the costs associated to litigate the matter?
This website is for informational purposes only. Using this site or communicating with SKB Law's Trademark Legal Team through this site does not form an attorney/client relationship. This site is legal advertising.
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