They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. That may be true, but when it comes to your name and your trademarks, imitation is the sincerest form of theft. If you own a business, your trademarks are what identify and distinguish you, your products or your services, from others in the same type of business. Think about all that you invest in your business in time, labor, and money and the good will you build with your customers. Every step of the way you have painstakingly built value in your company. That value from your efforts is represented to the public by your name and your trademarks.
In many cases, you can legally protect your business’ name and trademarks through state, federal and international registration.
What is a Trademark?
Trademarks are a form of intellectual property that includes marks, words, phrases, and other devices used to identify the originator or owner of a good or service and to prevent confusion between identifiers of similar goods or services. Trademarks also encompass: service marks; trade names; certification marks; collective marks; and trade dress. When a trademark is federally registered, the trademark is protected against other similar marks that may cause confusion or harm the value of the registered trademark in the future.
Why are Trademarks valuable business assets?
Since the earliest days of trade and commerce, craftsmen and businesses have sought to distinguish their goods and services from similar products and services of others. Trademarks identify and distinguish the source of the goods or services of one business from those of another. Trademarks prevent confusion between similar goods or services by providing potential customers with a recognizable mark, word, phrase, or other device associated with a specific person or business. In so doing, the person or the business benefits from the customer’s association of the trademark with the desired goods or service. The federal registration system in the United States, available through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), provides a federal registry process and system that advances this benefits of trademark ownership.
Registration with the USPTO entails an application process and an evaluation process.
Why should you register your trademarks?
Federal trademark registration provides the following advantages to the trademark owner:
Notice of your business’ use and claim to the trademark.
Prevention of others from using your trademark or similar trademarks in the future.
Access to federal courts for actions of infringement.
Protection and enhancement of the value of your goods or services.
Protections against “cyber piracy.”
What types of marks can you registered with the USPTO
The USPTO applies statutory parameters on what marks, words, phrases, or other devices qualify for federal trademark registration. Some of the parameters evaluated are: ownership of the mark; distinctiveness of the mark; prior use of the mark; likelihood of confusion with other marks; descriptiveness and secondary meaning; use, non-use, and intent to use of the mark in commerce; and others.
What is required for federal trademark registration?
Trademarks must be registered in order to prevent future use by others of the mark and to protect the owner from infringement of their marks by others promoting like or similar products or services.
The basic requirements for federal trademark registration are:
An owner (individual, business, etc.) who controls the origin and quality of the goods and services represented by the trademark.
Use or intended use of the good or service in interstate commerce.
Other forms of trademark protection and registration.
Depending on your specific situation, other forms of trademark protections are available. Many states, such as Florida, offer a form of trademark protection or registration. International trademark protection and registration is also available.
If you own a business and you provide goods or services, your trademarks are or can be valuable business assets. Contact attorney David D. Mouery at the Kendrick Law Group, 407-641-5847 for a free consultation concerning your trademarks and other intellectual property.