Your brand represents your business’s image and reputation. A trademark is a part of your brand that legally protects those aspects of your brand unique to your business. Trademarks help prevent competitors from creating brands that may confuse the public as to whether you or your competitors are the source or origin of your goods or services.
Protecting trademarks with registration can have a long-term positive impact on a company’s competitive position. For example, a recently released study by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) showed that companies that filed trademark registration applications were more likely to employ people and grow revenue than those that didn’t. The study also showed that first-time trademark registration applicants were more likely to experience a growth in research and development activities after filing than non-filers.
Because trademarks are so intertwined with brands, consumer purchasing decisions are influenced by the trademarks representing those brands. A single trademark can convey attributes about your business, including its products, services, and reputation. Trademarks make it easier to find you and distinguish your products or services from those of your competitors in a crowded marketplace. For example, your trademark allows your business to effectively use the Internet; search engines and social media platforms are usually the first destinations for customers researching your products or services.
Benefits of Registering Your Trademark
Given a trademark’s value to your business, and its role as a source identifier for your goods or services, it’s important to preserve and enhance that value through registration of your trademark. Here are some of the most important benefits of trademark registration:
- Protecting a top business asset. Unregistered, or common law, trademarks can’t be transferred or assigned without the goodwill associated with that trademark. If the goodwill isn’t transferred or assigned, the transfer or assignment is invalid. Typically, this means that if you want to acquire an unregistered trademark, you need to acquire the business itself as a going concern. In contrast, a trademark registration has value separate and apart from your business; all or part of it may be assigned or otherwise transferred for valuable consideration like any other asset your business owns. Moreover, as an asset, a trademark registration can be pledged as security for loans or other financial accommodations your business might need.
- Giving you the right to use the trademark throughout the US. A federally-registered trademark gives you the exclusive right to use that trademark throughout the United States for the goods or services listed in the registration. State trademark registrations protect your right to use the trademark only in that particular state. Use of unregistered or common law trademarks will only be protected in the (often) narrow geographic areas they are used. This limits your ability to expand your business to a larger geographic area through, among other means, online commerce. Registering your trademark gives you the ability to expand your business nationally.
- Preserving future usage rights. Registering your trademark puts competitors on actual and “constructive” notice that you are the owner of that trademark and have the right to use it nationally, even if you don’t yet do business nationally. “Constructive” notice means that, even if a competitor or potential infringer didn’t have actual notice of your trademark, they can’t claim to be unaware of its federal registration. Also, because having a registered trademark allows you to use the small circled “R” with its use, you can provide notice of registration to the public yourself. This “notice” should deter competitors and potential infringers from trying to use your trademark or something similar.
- Registering in foreign countries. A federal trademark registration allows you to conveniently register your trademark in foreign countries. This enables you to take advantage of the benefits of registration available in those countries. Also, a federally registered trademark can be easily filed with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection service who can block unauthorized importation of goods from outside of the United States bearing your trademark.
- Creating evidence for future legal action. If you become involved in a dispute over a domain name which uses all or part of your trademark, your registration of that trademark is powerful evidence of your rights in the trademark being misappropriated. Without registration, you need to demonstrate your rights to your trademark through sales, advertising, promotional and other business records, a difficult and expensive undertaking. Domain name disputes are resolved by a panel of arbitrators under the Uniform Dispute Resolution Procedure (UDRP) of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN. Arbitrators who handle UDRP cases look favorably on owners of registered trademarks.
- Guarding against infringement. If someone is using your trademark without permission (i.e. infringing your trademark), and you need to bring legal action to enforce your rights to that trademark in court, you have certain advantages in having your trademark federally registered. You have the right to bring your legal action in federal court, regardless of the amount of your potential claim. Federal court has certain procedural advantages over state court, including nationwide discovery and judges with substantial experience in trademark law. Also, because your trademark is registered, the court will presume that it is valid; the other side has the burden of proving that it’s not. Finally, you have a variety of remedies available to you, including entitlement to statutory damages for infringement (which reduces your burden of proof and increases your chances of succeeding in your action), as well as “treble” (triple) the amount of your proven infringement damages in the event of willful or intentional infringement of your trademark.
How Becker Law LLC Can Help
Registering your trademark adds value to your business, puts the public and your competitors on notice of your rights in your trademark, and strengthens your ability to protect that trademark and its associated brand against infringers. Balanced against these substantial benefits, the minimal cost of registering your trademark is a smart investment.
Becker Law LLC can help you protect your trademarks and other intellectual property assets. To learn more about our trademark registration services, complete the online contact form or use our online tool to schedule an appointment for an on-demand consultation.