You might be wondering whether you should trademark something for your business, but you’re not really sure what the benefits of trademark registration really are. Or you might have considered trademark registration for your business name, course name, product logos or your tagline – but you get sort of lost on the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) website trying to figure out how to go about trademark protection for your online business.
In this post, I’ll teach you about the benefits of trademark registration, how long does it take to register a trademark, and whether you need a trademark for an online business in the first place.
Let’s dive into trademark protection!
BENEFITS OF TRADEMARK REGISTRATION
Legal Presumption of Ownership
As a business owner, we all only have so much time to spend each day on all of the various tasks we have to do in our businesses. So the fact that trademark registration offers you the legal presumption of ownership of the mark you’ve registered is a huge time and money saver! This means that you won’t have to waste as much time proving that you’re the rightful owner of the trademark because your trademark registration does that for you.
Putting Others on Public Notice
When you register a trademark, your mark gets put on the USPTO’s website as a registered trademark. Actually, your mark gets published on their site even while you’re waiting for your trademark to be approved! By doing so, when someone with similar trademarks searches to see if the mark is available, yours will come up as a competing mark. All registered trademarks are listed on the USPTO’s search database.
This is especially great because you no longer have to rely on people in your geographic area seeing your mark in action (if you own a bakery, for example). Now, people all over the world can tell you have a registered trademark with the click of a search button.
Customs and Border Protection
When you have a registered trademark, US Customs and Border Protection can block copycats from importing goods with your stolen trademark on them. So if Louis Vuitton found out that someone was importing bags with their logo on it, they would be able to use the Federal Registration of their trademark as a way to stop the importation of the infringing goods via US Customs and Border Protection.
How to Register Your Trademark in Foreign Countries
When you have registered trademarks in the United States, you can use that registration as a basis for registration in other countries. This is especially important if you want to sell your goods or services overseas. Thanks to the Madrid Protocol, an international treaty that allows you to apply to over 100 member countries in a single application, you can register your trademark elsewhere in the world.
No, there’s no one application you can fill out to register your trademark in every country in the world. (At least not yet! Let’s get on it people!)
Access to Federal Court
One of the biggest benefits of registering is the fact that if and when someone infringes upon your trademark rights, you will be able to seek trademark protection in Federal Courts (vs. state or local courts.) Doing so offers you a huge benefit of registering a trademark: access to additional damages, aka. Money.
When Can You Use the Registered Trademark Symbol
When you register your trademark, you get to use the registered trademark symbol ® after your mark. Doing so puts other people on notice not to use similar trademarks or copy yours.
You Can Sell a Trademark
If you’ve ever thought of offering for sale your trademark (or even your entire business!) it’s going to be hugely valuable to have a registered trademark as part of your company’s assets.
How Long Does It Take To Register a Trademark
Let’s just say that you can grow a vegetable garden much faster than you can get trademark protection. It’s not because trademark applications are hard. They’re actually quite simple to fill out! But the federal registration process for getting trademark protection from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is not quick.
What Is the Trademark Registration Process
First, I suggest looking up trademark applications on the USPTO’s website to get a feel for what kind of information they need from you.
When you’re ready, you either hire a trademark attorney to file a trademark for you – which is a great option if you’re tight on time or not confident filing a trademark application yourself.
Alternatively, you could prepare and fill the trademark application yourself. If you do, make sure you take extra care to fill out everything truthfully and completely. That will help your application to be accepted and for there to be fewer initial rejections.
Once your trademark application is submitted, it will be initially / preliminarily ‘accepted’ by the USPTO. That doesn’t mean it’s been accepted-accepted. It just means it has passed the initial threshold.
From there, it will likely sit for several months with no action.
Your trademark application will then be assigned to an examining attorney. On one of my most recent applications, we weren’t assigned to an examining attorney for over 8 months.
Typically, you’ll receive some correspondence from the attorney at that time. They might ask you some questions or challenge the strength of your mark. If so, they will issue what is called an “Office Action” (a fancy term for a letter) letting you know what their demands or requests are. You essentially correspond with them back and forth until they’ve either accepted or rejected your trademark application. If and when they approve it, you will receive a certificate for trademark registration.
To make this lengthy process go as fast and smoothly as possible, you should keep your contact information up-to-date and respond to office action correspondence as quickly as you can. If you hire an attorney to file for you, ask that you be listed as a secondary contact so that you receive office action correspondences as well.
How Long Does Trademark Protection Last?
How’s a lifetime sound? Your trademark protection can last forever as long as you keep using your mark in commerce and you keep up with the renewal/maintenance requirements of the USPTO. The first maintenance requirement you’ll be required to file is at the 5-year mark after you have registered your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
I answered all of your trademark questions here!
What trademark questions do you have for me? Leave a comment below! (or just tell me if this article was helpful for you. I love hearing from you!)