Trademarks are distinctive names or symbols of companies, products, or services that distinguish one company’s goods or services from that of their competitors. Registration of a mark helps to deter others from using the same name or symbol to market their own products.
There are multiple symbols used to convey the status of one’s trademark protection, and they are often confused (and wrongly interchanged) by well-meaning business owners and creatives. Here are the key differences you should know about.
™ is a trademark symbol used for unregistered trademarks. You can begin using this symbol immediately next to your name or logo, without the government’s approval. By doing so, you are putting other businesses on notice that you consider the mark in question to be the trademark of your business. This should be done with some caution, however, as another business could already be using the mark to which you are staking claim. Avoid problems, even in the early stages, by working with a trademark attorney to conduct all necessary trademark searches.
® is the symbol for a registered trademark as registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The USPTO receives applications for trademarks, reviews them, and decides whether to approve them for registration. Once registered the ®symbol can be used with the mark and offers more protection than a ™ because each ® provides
- Constructive notice to the public of the registrant’s claim of ownership of the mark (15 U.S.C. §1072);
- A legal presumption of the registrant’s ownership of the mark and the registrant’s exclusive right to use the mark nationwide on or in connection with the goods/services listed in the registration (15 U.S.C. §§1057(b) and 1115(a));
- A date of constructive use of the mark as of the filing date of the application (15 U.S.C.§1057(c); TMEP §201.02.);
- The ability to bring an action concerning the mark in federal court (15 U.S.C. §1121);
- The ability to file the U.S. registration with the U.S. Customs Service to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods (15 U.S.C. §1124);
- The registrant’s exclusive right to use a mark in commerce on or in connection with the goods or services covered by the registration can become “incontestable,” subject to certain statutory defenses (15 U.S.C. §§1065 and 1115(b)); and
- The use of the U.S. registration as a basis to obtain registration in foreign countries.
Why you may want to register your trademark:
You plan to advertise and promote your goods and/or services. The more your name or logo is out there, the more you want to make sure that future clients associate that name or logo with your company.
You have a wide market/many products or services. If your products or services have a large demographic, then registering your trademark ensures that your trademark is protected as you compete for market share with many competitors.
You reach a national or international audience. The wider your net, the more people see your trademark, the more likely it can be confused with others. Protect it .
You want to give yourself the best chance of winning if you must pursue legal action. Having a federally registered trademark makes your case significantly stronger if you need to take action against a potential infringer. The courts actually consider the existence of a federally registered trademark as “evidence” when determining infringement cases.
An IP attorney practicing trademark law can help you decide whether to register your trademark and help you through the process. If you’d like assistance getting started, contact the Law Office of Jason H. Rosenblum, PLLC at (888) 666-0062 to schedule a consultation.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.
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