What exactly is a trademark? The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) defines a trademark as “a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination thereof, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others”.At its most basic, a trademark is a brand name or logo used on goods and services.
Many companies want to register their trademark but are faced with a difficult decision. Should they register their trademark with their state or should they register with the USPTO? While registering a trademark on the state level is a less expensive and less complicated process, it offers much less protection to a mark. Usually, with state registration, legal rights only extend to use of the trademark within the state. In addition, enforcing those rights can be more difficult than it would be with federal registration.
In contrast, consider some of the advantages federal trademark registration has to offer:
Listing in the USPTO’s online databases
The right to use the federal registration symbol Ⓡ
Public notice of mark ownership
Use of US registration as a basis for registering internationally
A legal, nationwide presumption of mark ownership
The ability to record the mark with US Customs and Border Patrol Services to prevent infringing foreign goods from being imported
Federal trademark registration offers many desirable benefits, but it is a complex and costly process. It is therefore advisable that you hire a qualified attorney to assist you throughout the process.
As a private trademark attorney, I can assist you before, during and after the trademark application process. Before filing your application, I will give you the option to conduct a comprehensive search of federal, state and common law unregistered trademarks that could impede your application from succeeding, thereby saving you from future legal problems that might be quite costly. In addition, I can help you determine the best way to describe your goods and services and prepare you to respond to any refusals to register that an examining attorney might issue. Since the USPTO only registers trademarks, leaving the owner responsible for any enforcement, I can also assist you in policing and enforcing your trademark rights.
Please feel free to contact me anytime with any questions or concerns about the federal registration process. I would be happy to assist you. With a qualified attorney on your side, you can successfully complete the process and reap the benefits of federal trademark registration.
Kelly G. Swartz is a patent attorney licensed to practice in front of the United States Patent and Trademark Office and in the state of Florida. She limits her practice to intellectual property law including patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secrets.