Welcome to Trademark Tuesdays! This Blog will give you answers to some of the most common questions concerning trademarks and the protection you receive once your trademark is registered. Please keep in mind, this information is not meant to provide legal advice or be relied upon as legal counsel. It is for educational information only. Trademark law is a complex area of law. If you are looking for legal help in obtaining federal Trademark protection for your trademark, please contact our firm today.
What Can I protect with a Federal Trademark?
Great question! You can protect your business name, product name, business or product logo. Really, almost anything can be trademarked. But it has to be tied to a product or service. A design, no matter how stunning, can only be trademarked if it is used to identify a good or service.
Why should I obtain a Federal Trademark?
This identifies you or your company as the source of goods or services you provide. Your clients or consumers will know you are the provider and can tell the difference between what you provide from what your competitors provide. Having the federal trademark gives you the legal right to own and right to use the mark in all 50 United States and U.S. Territories. But keep in mind, this does not provide rights to use the mark in other countries.
How will other people or businesses know the mark belongs to me?
After your mark has been federally registered, your mark is automatically submitted to the USPTO database, that is the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Anyone who searches the database after your mark has been registered can see your mark and will know that you have priority rights to the mark. This puts them on notice. Chances are the searcher who planned to use the mark will find another mark to identify their good or service to avoid "infringing" on your mark.
When Can I use the TM, SM, or circle R next to my product name?
You can use the TM and SM symbols as soon as you start using the mark to identify your good or service. These symbols announce to the public your intention to claim ownership rights to your mark. But you CANNOT use the circle R until you have successfully registered your mark with the United States Patent and Trademark (USPTO) office and received actual federal registration.
Can I file for Trademark protection if my company is a sole proprietorship if I plan to create a different business entity later?
You may apply as an individual. You can then transfer the mark to your new entity. This requires additional steps in the process. But it can be worth while for you to file as soon as you can to avoid the chance that someone will gain superior rights to the mark before your create your entity.
Can I still protect my mark if I use it without getting it registered with the USPTO?
You receive limited rights only in the geographical area where you use it just by using your mark (business name, logo, or tag line). However, your use may still conflict with or infringe on the use of another business who may also be using the same trademark in a different geographical area.
Can I get trademark protection for any design, product or company name, or slogan?
No. Not Every mark is protectable. You can work with an attorney to help you determine if your mark is protectable.