Patent and Trademark Protection – How to Protect Yours

*A Tip of the Hat to MyCorporation.com Newsletter for this information.  

Last year, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) received almost 260,000 trademark application filings, an increase of 8.4% over the previous year. Why is trademark registration so popular? Because more and more businesses are recognizing the importance of going the extra mile to protect their business names, product names, domain names, logos and slogans.

While federal trademark registration is not required, it offers many benefits:

  • Gives constructive notice nationwide of your claim to the trademark (and the right to use the ® symbol);
  • Provides evidence of your ownership of the trademark;
  • Enables you to invoke the jurisdiction of federal courts to protect your trademark;
  • Serves as a basis for obtaining registration in foreign countries; and
  • Allows you to file with the U.S. Customs Service to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods.

A comprehensive trademark search prior to filing an application is advisable. It provides you with a great deal of information regarding third party uses of marks that are similar to your proposed marks. If you file an application to register your mark not knowing that there is already an existing registered trademark that is identical or substantially similar, the USPTO will reject your application and you forfeit your application fee.

And the search must be comprehensive. Using someone else’s mark, even if that mark is unregistered, can have serious consequences. The other party can still get an injunction against you, thus, stopping you from using that mark again. In that case, all of the money spent in building that trademark may be lost, and additional funds will have to be spent developing a new trademark. That’s why MyCorporation’s comprehensive search provides not only information regarding marks in the USPTO database, but also information on marks registered at the state level and unregistered marks used in commerce.

Protecting yourself and your mark does not end with the search and registration. As a trademark owner, you have an ongoing responsibility to safeguard your mark against infringement to avoid losing your trademark rights. One simple, low-cost method for monitoring your trademark is to sign up with MyCorporation’s trademark watch. A trademark watch can be implemented to watch for third party uses of your trademark.

A trademark watch can be performed based upon your desired frequency. Generally, you will receive updates on a monthly basis. The monthly report will provide you information based upon the type of watch ordered.

Your watch reports can be forwarded to you electronically (via email), via U.S. mail, or via FedEx (for a minimal surcharge).

If a report reveals a conflict with your mark, you may consider taking action against the potential infringer. You can attempt to communicate with the alleged infringer yourself, or you can contact an attorney, preferably one specializing in trademark law. Local bar associations and the yellow pages usually have attorney listings broken down by specialties.

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2 Comments Patent and Trademark Protection – How to Protect Yours

  1. Ashley Gibson

    Having worked on a number of patents myself I know the value and the cost. A cheap way to get your invention recognized is to file a provisional patent. You can file one yourself pretty easily (there are loads of resources to help you) and it gives you a year to file the application itself. It marks the date from which you can defend you eventual patent.

    BTW, Google has a cool patent search feature – http://www.google.com/patents

    Reply
  2. Daniel Ballard

    Managing your company’s intellectual property — it’s trade secrets, inventions, brand-identifiers, copyrightable material — requires much specialized knowledge. The information on the internet that you know you can trust comes from the governmental agencies that regulate intellectual property. See below.

    It is worthwhile to sit down with an intellectual property attorney to discuss what you can do yourself and what you will need help to do.

    Copyright: http://www.copyright.gov/circs/

    Patents: http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/doc/general/index.html

    Trademarks: http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/tac/doc/basic/

    Reply

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