Care about your company’s brand? Then you should be considering registering your trademark. Trademarks are a big deal for companies – your brand name on average counts for one third of your company’s valuation, and is the basis for your goodwill.
Registering your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office is less costly than registering other types of intellectual property (for example, a patent), and provides tremendous benefits for protecting your company goodwill and reputation. While you don’t necessarily need to register your trademark to obtain trademark rights (you may be able to obtain something called common law rights without registering), here are what we consider the top reasons why you should register your trademark:
-A registered trademark with the USPTO is afforded national rights. This means that you can prevent another company or person from using your name (or something confusingly similar), in the same realm of goods and services that you provide throughout the United States. Without it, you are limited to the area in which you are selling goods or services.
-It prevents others from being able to register a similar mark to yours in the same area of goods or services. The USPTO alone will likely stop a future applicant from registering a similar mark, and therefore helps protect your mark against infringement without any additional work (or money) from you.
-Registration gives you the right to use the ® symbol with your brand name. Without the registration, you may us the TM symbol, but using the ® is prohibited by law. This symbol is intended to place others on notice of your trademark rights, and may deter another from infringing on your brand name.
-Your registered mark will be included in the USPTO’s database for federally registered marks. This is an important additional deterrent to those who want to use your trademark (or something similar), as typically the USPTO’s database is one of the first places individuals and attorneys check to see if a trademark is already in use.
-It grants you keys to the federal courthouse. If you want to sue an infringer in federal court, you’ll need a registered trademark.
-It provides a legal presumption your trademark is valid and you are the exclusive owner in the instance of litigation. This can help you win your case against an infringer.
-Should you file and win a lawsuit against an infringer, a trademark registration may entitle to you treble damages (3x) plus attorneys’ fees. This may mean not only are your expensive costs for the lawsuit reimbursed, but you may be entitled to a tidy monetary award too.
-A registration provides the basis to register your mark abroad. If you want to expand your brand overseas, a US registered trademark should be your starting point.
-U.S. Customs and Border Protection will stop imports, which infringe on your goods. This will help prevent counterfeit goods bearing your brand name from entering the market (note: this requires additional recording).
Registration is a critical aspect of marketing development for anyone who is serious about building their company’s brand. The process, however, can be tricky and long (the average trademark may take up to a year or longer to register).