Registering a Trademark
“Satisfying the complicated requirements imposed by the Trademark Office is not easy and filing without the help of a trademark lawyer is likely to result in the rejection of the application.” Lee Wilson, The Trademark Guide
Without a registration, there still exist some trademark rights in a name, but they are limited to the local geographic area. A business opening up with the name XYZ, without registering the trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office, will have limited trademark rights and for the most part only within the state where XYZ physically operates. But registering a trademark with the PTO gives the owner of the registration nationwide priority. The moment an application for Federal trademark registration is filed, everyone across the country is put on notice that you are using your mark. Anyone who attempts to use or register a confusingly similar mark after your filing can be stopped. So by registering the trademark, a company vastly increases its chances of preventing anyone else from using its name anywhere else in the United States. Once your trademark is registered, you have increased the value of the name or logo as an asset. If the business is ever sold, franchised or licensed in part to another company, the trademark registration can actually be assigned a dollar value.
In addition to extending trademark rights to all fifty states, Federal registration also allows you to use the ® or Registered Trademark wording alongside your name or logo. If someone comes along and adopts a confusingly similar mark, they cannot claim ignorance of your rights. Registration also gives constructive notice to everyone in this country that you own the mark, whether they actually know it or not. After five years of registration, the rights become incontestable, eliminating nearly every defense to trademark infringement. Registering your mark also provides substantial benefits and savings if you ever have to go to court to stop an infringement.
Registered marks can collect up to triple damages plus attorneys fees. Another benefit of registering a trademark is that if someone tries to register a domain name on the Internet which infringes your mark, a registered trademark owner can shut down the infringing site a lot easier and faster than if the trademark is not registered. The cumulative effect of all these benefits is a strong warning to others not to use infringing marks.
Although individuals may file applications for trademark registration on behalf of themselves, it is recommended that you consult with an attorney because there are many substantive and procedural requirements which must be complied with in order to receive a registration.