Trademark Registration Can Help Protect Your Business Assets
Deciding on a brand name is an important part of establishing your company’s identity and it lets customers know what goods and/or services your company will provide. Choosing a name can also be quite complex. Not only do you want to choose a name that truly identifies your company, but you also want to be sure you do not run into future legal issues. For example, choosing a name that is in use by another company could result in costly trademark infringement issues. Similarly, if you register your brand name, you protect it from unauthorized use by another company.
At Scaringi Law, our Harrisburg trademark attorneys can help you protect your business assets. Call us at (717) 775-7195 for a free consultation about registering your brand name.
What Is a Trademark?
A trademark is a word, phrase, or symbol that identifies the goods and services one business provides as opposed to those provided by another business. The word “trademark” is used generally to refer to both a trademark and a service mark.
The terms “trademark” and “service mark” are distinguished as follows:
- Trademark: refers to a business that sells goods such as donuts or office supplies
- Service mark: refers to a business that provides services such as transportation or accounting
Before you decide on a brand name, you need to make sure it is not already registered. If you use a name that another company is already using, the business owner can take you to court for trademark infringement. A federal or state court will decide if your use of the name is infringing on the trademark and may order you to stop using the name and give up or destroy any property that displays the name. You may also be required to compensate the business owner for lost profits or other damages caused by your use of the name.
Registering Your Brand Name
It is not required to register your brand name. Regularly using a certain name can establish “common law” trademark rights even if the name has never been registered. Common law rights protect the business that first used the name, but these protections are only applicable in the state where the name is used and are sometimes difficult to enforce.
While it is not required to register your brand name, registration with the United States Patent and Trademarks Office has its benefits, including:
- Exclusive use and protection of the name nationally
- Inclusion in the USPTO trademark database
- Use of the federal trademark symbol
- Federal protection of the name and the ability to bring infringement issues to federal court
Before you file your trademark application, you need to conduct thorough research to avoid possible infringement issues. You can begin research on the USPTO’s online database, which can be found at http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/. This research also prevents you from filing an application that the USPTO will reject because the name you chose is already in use.
The USPTO holds information only about names that have been registered with the agency and does not carry information about names with common law rights. Therefore, you must also search the internet and state trademark databases to avoid using a name that is not registered with the USPTO.
After you file your trademark application, an examining attorney will review the application to ensure it complies with applicable laws. It can take a few months before the examining attorney accepts or denies your application. If the application is denied, you have six months to respond to the decision. If the application is approved, your brand name is published in the “Official Gazette.” You must maintain your trademark registration, otherwise it will be canceled and you will have to go through the registration process again.
We Can Help Protect Your Business Assets
Registering a trademark is a complex legal process that requires compliance with various laws and rules. At Scaringi Law, our experienced Harrisburg trademark lawyers can help you with the process to avoid costly infringement issues in the future.
Call Scaringi Law at (717) 775-7195 or contact us online for help protecting your brand name.