This article 5 Must-Know Facts about Trademark Law Los Angeles is about registering a trademark if you live or work in Los Angeles, California.
Before we get further into 5 Must-Know Facts about Trademark Law Los Angeles, I just want to let you know that you do not need Los Angeles trademark attorneys to advise you on trademark matters. Trademark law is federal law.
Therefore, any attorney (including myself) that is licensed in the United States could advise you. I've been a licensed attorney for over 10 years and I currently focus on trademark registrations, trademark searches, office actions, and contracts.
I also have an article about the best lawyers for trademark and intellectual property protection that you can read by clicking here.
What is a trademark?
According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), a trademark is a word, phrase, or design that identifies the source of a good or service. A trademark is a brand identifier.
A trademark is different than a copyright or patent. Copyrights are for creative material like books, photographs, and movies. Patents are for inventions. There could be overlapping.
I advise on trademark and copyright matters. Trademark, copyright, and patent are all under the umbrella of intellectual property. Most intellectual property attorneys practice both trademark and copyright law. If you have an invention, I suggest reaching out to a patent attorney.
Trade secrets are also different from trademark law. Trade secrets are confidential information that you do not want your competitors to have. You can protect this with a confidentiality contract.
A company can have many kinds of trademarks. For example, Coca Cola has a registered trademark for its company's name. It also has a trademark for the Coca Cola name in cursive. It also has a trademark for its bottle design.
Businesses invest considerable time and money into marketing their brands.
Trademark registration is a great way to protect your marketing investments.
There are several benefits to trademark registration.
One of the main benefits of trademark registration is that it can help you to protect your business' reputation. You work hard to let consumers know that your good or service is valuable. If someone starts advertising a similar name or logo, a consumer may purchase from the infringer and mistakenly think that the service or product is from you.
If the other company provides a poor product or service, and the customer thinks it was you, your company could be negatively affected. You could get a bad Google review online. That customer could stop buying from you. They could tell others to stop buying from you.
However, if you have a registered trademark, you could stop the infringer and save your customer base.
Registered trademark owners can more easily enforce their trademark rights as opposed to non-registered trademark owners.
A registered trademark establishes certain presumptions in court automatically. If you did not have a trademark, your attorney would have to take time to establish that presumption. The more time an attorney works for you, the more expensive it could be. But if you have a registered trademark, you could skip several costly steps.
Another benefit of registering your trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is that it could deter potential copycats. Your mark would appear in the USPTO's database. If someone was looking for names that were already taken, they would see your name and might decide not to name their company after yours.
You can also use the circle R next to your trademark. The mere sight of this could deter copycats.
The last major benefit of having a registered trademark is that you have the exclusive right to use that mark nationally. That means that someone in a different state cannot use your brand name, logo, or design-- even if you are not using it in that state. That is how strong trademark protection can be.
What is the trademark registration process?
There are several steps to the trademark registration process.
The first step is the trademark search. This is your due diligence and should be a part of all business plans.
You want to have an experienced trademark attorney conduct a trademark clearance search to determine whether there are any existing trademarks that are too similar to the mark that you want to use.
A Google or TESS search is not enough. Experienced attorneys utilize the law that comes from the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, and give legal advice based on this.
Even if your mark is not the exact same as another mark, you could still be sued for trademark infringement from the owner of a similar trademark.
A trademark examiner could also deny your trademark application on these grounds. The examiner would issue an office action refusal citing "likelihood of confusion" as a basis. You could also lose your $350 filing fee.
The second step is to file a trademark application with the USPTO.
You get automatic common law trademark rights as soon as you start using a trademark. However, you get the additional benefits noted above when you file a trademark application and receive a registration certificate.
The application is relatively short. However it can be complex. If you make a mistake, it could cost you 10x the filing fee in legal fees if you had to hire an attorney to fix the legal issues you created.
That is why I always suggest hiring a trademark attorney with significant years of experience.
The third step of the trademark process is waiting for approval from the USPTO. These days, it could take about 1.5 years to receive a trademark registration. The pandemic has contributed to these lengthy delays.
To summarize, when you file your application, you do not hear anything back from the trademark office for 9 months.
After this stage, they assign your application to an examining attorney. The examiner reviews your application.
He or she could put it through to the next phase called Publication. Or the examiner could issue a rejection called an office action.
You have 3 months to respond to an office action or your application could be denied.
The last step of the trademark process is enforcing and monitoring your trademark. It is important to police your mark and stop others from using it. You should not allow any unauthorized use of your branding.
If you do not police your mark, your mark can become generic. Any person could use it at that point.
You must enforce your mark right away. If you wait too long to take legal action, a federal court could rule that you waived your right to enforce your trademark.
Many top trademark lawyers offer trademark monitoring, and I think it is a good idea to use it.
More information about trademarks
Technically, a trademark and service mark are two different things. A trademark is a mark that references a product.
A service mark is a mark that relates to a service provider. However, the term trademark has come to encompass both trademarks and service marks.
Historical Facts About Los Angeles
Los Angeles was originally inhabited by the Tongva people. The area was then taken over by Spanish settlers. In the early 1800s, Los Angeles became part of Mexico. The United States won control of the region after the Mexican-American war.
The city grew quickly in the late 1800s and early 1900s because of the oil discoveries and the film industry.
Today, LA is known for its diverse culture, film industry, and warm climate.
If you have any questions about trademark law, I'd be happy to help. I have extensive experience protecting the intellectual property rights of business owners.
I highly encourage you to protect your creative works!
You can schedule a consultation by clicking here or by calling (754) 800-4481.
This article Trademark Law Los Angeles was about registering a trademark if you live or work in Los Angeles, California.
Thank you for reading this post!
About Melissa D. Goolsarran Ramnauth, Esq.
Melissa has been an attorney for over 10 years. She currently focuses on trademark registration, trademark searches, and office actions. She also has extensive legal experience in the areas of contracts, litigation, trials, and bankruptcy. She owns her own law firm that is virtually based out of Fort Lauderdale.
She also runs West Indian Diplomacy, a Caribbean blog aimed at promoting West Indian history and business in the global marketplace.
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