Brands are a valuable commodity in today’s economy, and businesses work hard to protect their trademarks from being taken without permission.
To secure your brand, you first need to register your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). You should also be aware of the different types of infringement and what you can do if someone uses your brand without your permission.
Finally, make sure to have a solid plan for dealing with any infringement or unauthorized use of your brand!
What is a Trademark, and Why Should You Register One for Your Business?
A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. A service mark is a word, phrase, symbol, or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than goods.
The term “trademark” is often used to refer to both trademarks and service marks. You can federally register a trademark for your business. Doing so has several advantages:
- Federal registration puts the public on notice of your claim of ownership of the mark, preventing other businesses from adopting a similar mark for similar products or services.
- If someone infringes on your mark, you may be able to recover damages and attorney’s fees in a federal lawsuit.
- You may be able to use the ® symbol with your mark.
- You may be able to block the importation of infringing foreign goods.
You can register a trademark online at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website. The standard application fee is currently $275 per class of goods or services. You will need to select the proper class(es) for your goods or services before beginning your application; additional fees apply if you elect to file in more than one class.
It typically takes about four to five months for the USPTO to process a trademark application and issue a Notice of Allowance.
How to Register a Trademark with the USPTO?
The first step in registering a trademark is to select the proper class(es) for your goods or services. The USPTO has 45 different classes of goods and services, so it is essential to choose the classes that best describe your business.
Once you have selected the proper class(es), you can begin your application online at the USPTO website. The standard application fee is currently $275 per class of goods or services. You will need to describe your goods or services, contact information, and the date you first used the trademark.
If you have not yet used the trademark in commerce, you can still apply for an “intent-to-use” registration. An intent-to-use registration allows you to reserve the trademark while preparing to use it in commerce.
You will need to file a statement of use eventually showing that you have started using the trademark in commerce, but you will have up to three years to do so.
Monitoring Your Trademark After Registration
After registering your trademark, it is essential to monitor its use to ensure that it is not used without your permission. You can search for unregistered uses of your trademark online using a service like Google Alerts or Mention.
You can also search for registered trademarks similar to yours using the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). If you find someone using your trademark without your permission, you can send them a cease and desist letter asking them to stop. If they do not comply, you may need to take legal action.
Types of Trademark Infringement
There are two main types of trademark infringement: direct and indirect infringement.
Direct infringement occurs when someone uses your trademark without your permission in a way that is likely to confuse consumers. This includes using your trademark on identical or similar goods or services, using your trademark in a way that dilutes its quality, or selling counterfeit goods bearing your trademark.
Indirect infringement occurs when someone uses your trademark without your permission in a way that does not cause consumer confusion but is still likely to damage your business.
This includes using your trademark to violate your exclusive rights, using your trademark in a domain name or social media account, or using your trademark as part of a search engine marketing campaign.
For example, if someone uses your trademark in a negative review or on a competing website, this could be considered indirect infringement. If you believe that someone has infringed on your trademark, you should contact an attorney.
How to Deal With Trademark Infringement?
Send a Cease and Desist Letter
If you discover that someone is using your trademark without your permission, the first step is to send them a cease and desist letter. This is a formal request for them to stop using your trademark. If they do not comply, you may need to take legal action.
How to send a cease and desist letter?
- A cease and desist letter should include the following:
- Your contact information
- The date
- The name and contact information of the infringing party
- A description of the infringing activity
- A request for the infringing party to stop using your trademark
- A threat of legal action if they do not comply
You should consult with an attorney before sending a cease and desist letter.
File a Civil Lawsuit
You can file a civil lawsuit in federal court or file a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC).
A civil lawsuit is typically more expensive and time-consuming, but it may be necessary if the infringement is widespread or if the infringer is located in a foreign country. The ITC is a government agency that can block the importation of infringing goods into the United States.
Preventing Trademark Infringement
The best way to prevent trademark infringement is to have a solid plan for dealing with it if it occurs. It would be best to start registering your trademark and then monitoring its use online. You should also be aware of the different types of infringement and what you can do if someone uses your trademark without your permission.
You should also use a dedicated DMCA takedown service which will protect your brand.
Lastly, make sure to have a solid plan for dealing with any infringement or unauthorized use of your brand!
Any business owner must protect their brand from being stolen without their consent. You may begin by registering your trademark and then tracking its usage online.
Ensure you’re aware of the many types of infringement and what you can do if someone uses your trademark without your permission. Finally, establish a solid strategy for handling any infringement or unauthorized use of your brand.