Businesses are often encouraged to create names and/or designs that appeal to potential customers. So much hard work and dedication goes into this process. Yet, one may ask, how can this creativity be protected from potential theft?
One of the most important protections offered by the government is a trademark.
What is a trademark?
A trademark is “a word, phrase, symbol, or design, or a combination thereof that identifies and distinguishes the source of goods of one party from those of others.” In other words, a trademark is used to differentiate a particular company among competitors.
Trademark protections help to ensure that the intellectual property and creative rights of its creator are not stolen by someone else. The owner of a registered trademark can sue someone else who copies their exact or even similar mark.
How do I get a trademark?
Before you register for a trademark with the United States Patent & Trademark Office, you should conduct a clearance search. It is important to make sure that the mark that you are trying to register is not already owned/used by someone else. The other user could sue you and your application could be denied. Thus, the clearance search is due diligence that can save time and money.
It is important to note that a mere Google search is not enough. An experienced attorney can uncover “similar” marks based on experience and resources. Just because you did not find the exact match on Google, that does not mean that your application won’t be denied for having a mark that is too similar to another.
After conducting a clearance search, you can file an application to register your mark with the USPTO. You will need an attorney to file the application if you are not currently living in the United States. However, there are benefits of having an attorney represent you even if you are currently living in the U.S. Lawyers can avoid certain mistakes and pitfalls on the trademark application. It may seem like a simple application but failure to accurately complete it can result in refusals and delays. That corresponds to loss revenue.
Importance of Trademark
A registered trademark has two major benefits. First, a registered trademark can save a business owner money on legal fees in the future. A registered trademark establishes certain presumptions in a lawsuit that would otherwise have to be established by a party to the lawsuit. The more work it takes to establish a presumption means the more money you have to pay an attorney to establish that presumption for you. A trademark helps to skip that step and therefore helps to avoid extra money you would have to pay your lawyer at a trial. Moreover, the due diligence search helps reduce the risk of being sued for infringing on another brand.
The second major benefit to having a trademark is that a proprietor and their business can more efficiently expand their brand. The USPTO will not grant registration if a mark is too similar to another mark. That means that you might not be able to expand your business into a new category if you do not register the name/design and someone else does. For example, if you do not register your marketing company's name and someone else registers the same name for an SEO platform, you could be prevented from using that name for your future SEO platform.
In conclusion, a trademark protects intellectual property, saves proprietors on legal fees, and allows businesses to expand into other markets with more efficiency. Registration for a trademark is simple and efficient. If you need advice on how to properly obtain a trademark, please contact MDGR LAW.
Melissa D. Goolsarran Ramnauth, Esq.
Trial-Winning Trademark & Business Law Firm
Book an appointment online at www.mdgrlaw.com/contact
“Basic Facts About Trademarks.” United States Patent and Trademark Office, USPTO, 2021. www.uspto.gov
“Trademarks.” Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, 2021.
Research assistance by Jace Sapenter-Nath