Protecting Your Business with a Trademark

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There are some logos that we automatically associate with specific companies. Think McDonald’s golden arches or the 7 Eleven logo. These businesses have spent countless resources to build up their business goodwill. Having a trademark will help protect the fruits of your labor for your business and ensure that your customers do not confuse your business with another business.

What is a trademark?

A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. Typically, a business will want to trademark both its name and logo.

What is the difference between obtaining a business name and filing for a trademark?

If you have a business, it is likely that you have registered your business name with the state. Registering your business with the state will stop another company from registering the exact same name in the same state. However, registering your name with the state has no impact on what happens in the other states. For example, if you incorporated your business in California, another business can use your same name in New York or Texas.

However, obtaining a trademark from U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) will give you ownership rights over the name across the United States. The trademark is legally enforceable at both the state and federal levels.  

Depending on your business type and model, protection at the state level may be sufficient. For example, if you are opening a local restaurant or business in Georgia, you may not mind if a restaurant or business in Alaska uses your name because there is low chance that a customer will confuse the two. However, with the ability to search for your business on the internet, customers may still confuse your business with someone else’s business. Furthermore, if you plan on expanding your business nationwide, you may want to consider protecting your name on a federal level with a trademark.

What are the advantages of having a trademark?

·  You are able to ensure that you are not infringing on someone’s trademark. By applying for a trademark with USPTO, you ensure that you do not unknowingly conduct business infringement of an existing mark, potentially exposing yourself to attorney’s fees and being liable for damages.

·  You are able to protect yourself from others profiting from your name. By successfully registering your trademark, you will have broad protections from any possible infringement by others, intentional or not. If there is an infringement, having a registered trademark gives you leverage to put a stop to this use and allows you to recover damages if you incurred financial loss. For example, most people are familiar with 7 Eleven and associate their logo with a convenience store. If another company comes along with a similar name or logo, that would cause customer confusion. Customer confusion is even more likely if this other company is also in the convenience store business.

·  You are able to cover the legal requirements to prove that a mark belongs to you. If there is a trademark dispute or challenge, the USPTO will be concerned with who used a mark first. By having a registered trademark, you are able to provide legal proof of the first date of use of your mark.

How We Can Help

CTK Law Group can assist you in applying a for a trademark to protect your business name and/or logo. The trademark application process can take months so contact us today!

The information provided in this article is not legal advice and does not purport to be a substitute for advice of counsel on any specific matter. For legal advice, you should consult with an attorney concerning your specific situation. No attorney-client relationship shall be established by this article. CTK Law Group, PC has no affiliation with McDonald’s or 7 Eleven nor is this article endorsed by any other company.

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