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Protecting Your Business Trademark

March 18, 2013

The name of your company and the slogans and logos you use with your products or services are called trademarks or service marks and are used by consumers to identify the source of the products or services. If your business would suffer if someone else used your name, slogan, or logo, then you should proactively take steps to protect these. Although a “common law” right in your trademark is acquired by use, it is very difficult to enforce common law trademark rights unless the mark is registered.

A mark that is used in more than one state or country is eligible for federal registration, while a mark that is only used within a single state (no out-of-state sales) may only be registered in that state. Federal registration is much stronger and more desirable; it provides nationwide protection and will become incontestable after five (5) years. A cease and desist letter to demand that someone stop using your mark will carry much more weight and you will have greater rights in court if your mark is registered.

If you are developing a new mark, it is important to search in advance to see if that mark is in use. Although registration of a mark is based on actual use, it is possible to apply for registration of the mark before sales commence on an intent to use basis.

Each trademark registration application is examined by an attorney in the Trademark Office and in many instances an Office Action refusing registration is issued. The advanced work in anticipating and dealing with objections that may be raised and in responding to trademark office actions requires experience and knowledge.

At HoganWillig we can help you evaluate the marks you use or would like to develop and take them through the registration process.