Trademarks and intellectual property are extremely valuable to a successful small business. Registering those marks with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) may be the difference between successfully protecting the brand name and losing it to a competitor.
Registered and Unregistered Trademarks
Registered trademarks are identified by the ® symbol following the mark. Common law ownership of unregistered trademarks can be claimed by placing the ™ symbol after the mark. Registered marks are those that have gone through the registration process from application to publication with the USPTO.
Cease and Desist Letter
If your business has received a “cease and desist” letter regarding your alleged use of a protected mark, you need to talk to an attorney right away to make sure you are not violating trademark law. In some cases, the claims and threats in a cease and desist letter are not a legitimate danger to the business. Only an experienced attorney can help evaluate the trademarks at issue.
A trademark is a word, sign or expression that is used to identify products or services as being different from others. It is the legal protection assigned to these words and symbols.
The best way to keep good records is to establish a system that allows you to efficiently and easily retrieve them. Choose the best way for your business.
The key to success is how well you can distribute your product. If you are selling retail items, you may want to find an experienced distributor with a great sales force and contacts.
Trademark Registration Process
The trademark application process can usually be initiated in a short period of time. It takes work on the part of the mark owner and the trademark attorney to prepare the application. It may take some follow up work and some period of months before the mark is ready for final approval and publication.
Benefits of Trademark Registration
According to the USPTO, the benefits of registration include:
- Public notice of your claim of ownership of the mark
- A legal presumption of your ownership of the mark and your exclusive right to use the mark nationwide on or in connection with the goods/services listed in the registration
- The ability to bring an action concerning the mark in federal court
- The use of the US registration as a basis to obtain registration in foreign countries
- The ability to record the US registration with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Service to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods
- The right to use the federal registration symbol ®
- Listing in the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s online databases
Answers to additional frequently asked questions can be found at the USPTO website. KM&A business attorneys are also available to discuss specific questions you may have about the marks your business uses.
Kraemer, Manes & Associates LLC “KM&A” is a law firm serving all of Pennsylvania with our principal offices in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Call KM&A in western Pennsylvania at 412-626-5626 or in eastern Pennsylvania at (215) 618-9185. KM&A can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.