Why Should I Register My Trademark?

Recently, a client who owns a restaurant called about a new restaurant that had opened up down the road. The client was concerned because the new restaurant had a name that was really similar to hers. In fact, the names were so similar that one of my client’s customers came into her restaurant and told her “I can’t believe your other location serves such terrible food,” thinking that my client owned the new restaurant as well.

My client wanted to know what she could do about this. She worked years to build her brand and this new restaurant was ruining it. My first question was whether she had a registered trademark.

Obtaining a registered trademark is often overlooked when starting a business. But there are many benefits to having your trademark registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”).

A trademark is a word, phrase, or logo that identifies and distinguishes your goods or services as coming from your business. One example is the Nike swoosh – customers see the swoosh on a t-shirt or shoes and they know that the product came from Nike. If Nike had never obtained a federally registered trademark for its swoosh, it would have a hard time stopping other businesses from using the swoosh on knock-off products.

This brings me to the primary benefit of having a federally registered trademark: the first party with a federal registration is presumed to be the nationwide owner of that trademark. In other words, if you end up in a fight with someone about using a trademark, your federal registration proves to the court that you are the owner, and the other party will have the burden of disproving that priority ownership.

In addition, a federally registered trademark:

  • Allows you to sue someone for infringing upon your trademark in federal court;
  • Extends the rights you have in your trademark to the entire United States;
  • Is required to register with Amazon’s brand registry;
  • Allows you to obtain foreign registration for your trademark;
  • Prevents others from obtaining federal registrations for trademarks that are confusingly similar to yours;
  • Provides notice to the public that you own the trademark, discouraging others from using similar trademarks; and
  • Gives you the right to use the federal registration symbol ®.

You do have some rights in your trademark without a federal registration. But those rights are limited. In short, federal registration is the simplest way to provide maximum protection for your brand.

If you’re interested in registering a trademark, please contact us for more information.

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