Do you need to register your trademark to protect it?

Unregistered trademarks still have protection under both federal and state laws. The United States Code, Section 1125(a), allows legal action for false advertising and false designation of origin, offering federal safeguarding for unregistered marks. At the state level, common law or statutes governing unfair competition may protect marks not registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Most states have laws like the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act or the Model Trademark Bill.

Here’s what you need to know:

Not registering your trademark limits your legal rights to the geographic areas where you operate, allowing you to enforce your trademark only within this region. While you can still claim trademark rights for your distinctive mark, unregistered trademarks do not offer the same level of protection as registered ones under federal trademark law. However, you can safeguard your unregistered trademark from infringement and dilution using common law, enabling you to send cease and desist letters to unauthorized users.

To initiate a lawsuit, you'll need to establish the validity of your trademark, typically in state or local courts. Bringing a case to federal court is possible if certain criteria are met, such as the infringer residing in another state or the dispute involving federal law. Although filing for trademark registration doesn't guarantee priority, the date of first use determines your rights. While unregistered trademarks may offer limited protection, filing for registration establishes priority and strengthens your legal standing in case of infringement.

Benefits of Registration

While unregistered trademarks have some protection, registering your trademark brings several benefits. These include the right to sue in federal court, incontestable status after five years, and stronger legal remedies.

Here are six key benefits of registering your trademark:

Benefit 1: Increased Legal Protection

Without a registered trademark, proving ownership and protecting your creation from infringement can be challenging. However, having a registered trademark provides additional legal protections, such as presumed ownership, making it easier to defend your rights.

Benefit 2: Avoiding Legal Issues

Registering your trademark helps ensure that it is unique and not similar to any other registered trademark. This reduces the risk of inadvertently infringing on someone else's trademark, which could result in costly lawsuits, fines, and rebranding expenses.

Benefit 3: Exclusive Rights

Registering your trademark grants exclusive rights to operate and market under that trademark. This prevents other companies from using a similar trademark, protecting your brand identity and market presence.

Benefit 4: Legal Recourse Against Infringement

With a registered trademark, you have the legal authority to take action against anyone who infringes upon it. You can also record your trademark with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to prevent the importation of counterfeit goods.

Benefit 5: Use of the ® Symbol

Once your trademark is registered, you can proudly display the ® symbol, indicating federal registration. This adds credibility and prestige to your company and enhances brand recognition.

Benefit 6: International Expansion

A federal trademark registration can facilitate foreign trademark filings, enabling your company to expand into other countries with ease and protect your brand globally.

In summary, while unregistered trademarks have some protection, registering your trademark offers stronger legal safeguards and numerous benefits, especially in the digital age.

Still have questions? Contact us! We are a team of trademark attorneys who will help you pave your way through the trademark registration process and answer all your questions. From registering your brand to defending it against infringement, our team ensures your intellectual property is in safe hands. Let us help you navigate the complex world of trademarks, so you can focus on what you do best – growing your business. Contact us today for peace of mind and legal protection for your brand! Or choose one of our packages that guarantees results for a guaranteed budget with a full refund if the trademark gets rejected!

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I used Trademark Factory®'s All-Inclusive package to trademark SHACK SHINE in Canada and the U.S., and I'm very happy with my experience. I've never seen anybody offer legal services for a flat fee with a 100% money-back guarantees, and I got a chance to put Andrei's promises to the test. After USPTO issued an office action listing several objections to our application, Andrei and his team wrote a 10-page response that worked like a charm! I know how much effort and time went into preparing the argument, but here's the beauty of the all-inclusive package: they didn't charge me an extra penny to write the response. The brand is an extremely valuable asset of my business, and thanks to Trademark Factory®, it is now fully protected!

Dave Notte