Companies don’t pay money and subject themselves to the trademark application process for no reason. Owning a federal trademark registration provides a business with several advantages that can help them competitively and legally.
It all starts with the right of ownership.
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1. You legally own the mark
A federal trademark registration provides the owner with a legal presumption of ownership. This includes the exclusive rights to use the mark nationwide on or in connection with the goods and services listed in the registration.
In plain English, this means that you would have the legal recourse to bar or stop your competitors from using your trademark. Additionally, you can also prevent them from using anything that can be considered confusingly similar to your mark.
With full legal ownership rights in hand, you can control what gets associated with your mark.
2. You can pursue legal action against infringers
If a competing business uses your trade name, there’s not much you can do about it. A trade name grants you only the rights to use the name in documents and as business identification. You might be able to take action at the state level, but that becomes complicated if the competing business hails from a different state.
Federal trademark holders can sue infringers in federal court. Filing in federal court typically means a more timely process than state courts, since a single judge oversees the entire case. Mandatory disclosure rules of discovery can also benefit plaintiffs in federal court.
3. Your trademark will appear in searches
Before a company can apply for a trademark, it must first conduct a trademark search using the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database. If a company wishes to file a trademark that you already own they will see it in a database search. This should save both of you some legal hassle.
Since the USPTO database is publicly accessible, companies cannot claim ignorance of your trademark ownership. Again, this can help save you on the costs of potentially defending your trademark rights against infringers.
4. Prevent against imported goods
A U.S. trademark by itself does not affect international companies, except in one important way. Many foreign companies export their goods to the U.S. When you hold federal trademark rights, those foreign companies cannot use your trademark when selling their imported goods in the U.S.
For instance, an English brewery might call itself Smith’s. It can export its beer to the U.S., but if a U.S. brewery already owns the trademark, the Smith’s in England must distribute its product under a different name in the U.S.
5. Easier path to international rights
A registered trademark also allows the trademark owner to obtain international trademark registrations in foreign countries. So if you want to expand your business beyond the U.S., it would be much easier to obtain trademark protection in foreign countries if you already own the U.S. trademark rights.
6. Use of ® symbol
Only companies that have acquired a federal trademark registration can use the ® sign. Any company can use the trademark symbol (™) or service mark symbol (℠), but would be a violation of federal law for any non-registered entity to use the ® symbol.
While this is not an exhaustive list of the various benefits of trademark registration, these are the most important advantages.
Still unsure? Check out the common misconceptions about trademarks.