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Why should I register my trademark or service mark?

  • Demonstrates Marketing and Business Savvy. Having the official “stamp of approval” on a trademark (i.e., an official registration) can provide influence and credibility for the business. A start-up may be working on a shoe-string out of a spare room, but the business owner can present himself or herself as a savvy business owner who understands how to identify and protect his or her valuable assets. Customers, competitors and juries may involuntarily respond favorably because the mark is not just being used, but has been registered.

  • Deterrent effect. Registration lets the world know that you are serious about protecting your (proposed) brand name and reputation. If your mark is registered, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (or the state trademark office) will refuse to register any confusingly similar marks. Additionally, the mark will appear on trademark searches. When other businesses consider a mark that is similar to your mark, your mark will show up on the search report and in trademark databases. Most businesses would rather adopt a mark that is unique to their business and that does not run the risk of infringement or a lawsuit. Simply letting them know you're out there could prevent someone from adopting a name that is confusingly similar to yours.

  • Priority of use. The rights received from just using your trademark are limited to the geographic area of actual use. A state registration gives the owner rights throughout the state, and a federal registration gives you rights throughout the country. It is much easier to know where your exclusive trademark rights exist with a registration.

  • Access to federal Courts. A federal trademark registration gives easier access to federal courts – these are the preferred venue because the procedures are standardized across the country. If you need to sue an infringer in another state, federal courts may be the preferred venue for access to justice.

  • Validity. If you need to sue someone for trademark infringement, a state or federal registration easily proves who is the owner with the right to stop someone else. Otherwise, the owner has to spend the time and money to demonstrate the mark is valid, who is the owner, the mark is not abandoned and that the mark has been continuously used in interstate commerce.

  • Help Fighting Counterfeiters. Owners of federal trademarks can get help from the US Customs service to help fight importation of counterfeit goods.

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