Thursday, February 24, 2011

Why Bother Registering A Trademark?

This is a question we get asked all the time: Why bothering registering a trademark? Is it really worth it? In other words, what are the advantages of going to the trouble of registering a trademark as opposed to simply continuing to use an unregistered trademark?

In general, there are three main benefits to registering a trademark:
* (1) stronger protection for your trademark;
* (2) it tends to deter others from copying your trademark; and
* (3) better/stronger remedies in court if you have to sue someone for infringing your trademark.

More specifically, some of the advantages are:

1. The owner of a U.S. trademark registration certificate is entitled to a legal presumption that it is the valid nationwide owner of the trademark;

2. Trademark registration provides the trademark owner with the ability to recover up to triple financial damages and attorney's fees from a trademark infringer in a lawsuit;

3. Potential buyers of businesses usually see increased value when the seller’s trademarks have been registered;

4. Judges tend to give more weight to a registered trademark than an unregistered trademark in trademark infringement lawsuits;

5. A trademark registration increases the likelihood of successfully obtaining an infringing Internet domain name from a cybersquatter;

6. A trademark registration provides presumptive notice to others that your trademark is already being used; thus a company that later adopts a confusingly similar trademark will have trouble claiming ignorance of the trademark;

7. A U.S. trademark registration can be used as a basis for obtaining a trademark registration in foreign countries;

8. A trademark registration (like a copyright registration and an issued patent) can be recorded with the U.S. Customs & Border Protection service and used as a basis for seizing counterfeit products before they enter the U.S;

9. The owner of a U.S. trademark registration has the right to use the ® symbol after the trademark; that alerts third parties to the trademark registration and helps to eliminate the defense of "innocent infringement";

10. The trademark will appear in trademark search/clearance reports conducted by third parties; that tends to discourage those third parties from proceeding with using your trademark or filing a trademark application; and

11. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ("PTO") will refuse to grant a trademark registration for any trademark it believe is "confusingly similar" to your trademark.

Those are eleven pretty good reasons for going to the trouble and expense of registering a trademark.

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