So, you have a name that people know you by in these streets. Either a name for your products, services, or you as a brand. Or you have a logo, catch phrase or design that you associate with your products or services. Whatever you have, you need to protect it! And, sooner rather than later. It’d be a shame to spend years using a certain name, logo or slogan, and build a successful consumer base under that particular name, just to have to change it and rebrand your entire image and identity at some point later because someone else beat you to the trademark office. Or worse, because you didn’t protect your brand name, slogan or logo, someone else comes out and copies it in an attempt to capitalize off of the success you’ve worked so hard to build in your brand. Don’t let that happen to you or your business. Protect your mark.
How do you protect it, you ask? By obtaining a federally registered trademark.
A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs (“mark”), that identifies and distinguishes the source of goods and/or services of one party from those of others. In laymen’s terms – it’s the name, slogan or logo associated with your product or service. As an entrepreneur, you may want to trademark your business name, slogan, logo, product names, catch phrases for services offered, or anything else you associate with your products or services and use to distinguish them from those of another. Once you’ve selected a mark, it’s vital that you do some research to make sure it’s available for trademark registration.
The mark must not conflict with any other trademarks in the industry or it will fail the hallmark test for trademarks based on “likelihood of confusion”. This means it should not conflict with other existing business names, logos, slogans, etc. especially as it relates to similar products and services your company offers for sale. A google search may reveal some obvious conflicts, but an official trademark search will reveal all possible known conflicts in the United States and abroad.
Federal registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is not required, however it does offer certain benefits, such as:
1. Putting the public on notice of claim of ownership;
2. Creating certain presumptions of ownership, validity of the trademark and of the exclusive right to use the mark in connection with the goods or services associated with it;
3. Registrants can sue in federal court for infringement; and,
4. Owners can prevent importation of goods that bear an infringing mark.
Registering your mark is an important first step in gaining protection over it, but you must actively use the mark in connection with the goods and services associated with it, in order for the mark to maintain its federal registration status. Renewals are required every ten (10) years where trademark owners are required to show continued use of the mark. In addition, you must actively police your mark and pursue any unauthorized uses of it. Failure to do so can result in the loss of protection of your mark as well. Contact our office if you need a trademark registered today! Mention this blog and receive a discount!
Lerae Funderburg, Esq. is the Managing Attorney at Funderburg Law, LLC, an Atlanta based law firm specializing in business, estate planning and entertainment transactions. As a lawyer and blogger, Lerae keeps her viewers and subscribers up to date with legal news, especially in the areas of business, estate planning, music, copyright law and trademark law. If you are local to Atlanta, call and set up a consultation! She would love to hear from you!
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ARTICLE: Lerae Funderburg
EDITOR: La Mont Reed