Even if your trademark is not registered, it is still legally protected. Learn the distinction between registered and unregistered trademarks.
It may surprise you to hear that even if your trademark is not formally registered with the USPTO, it is legally protected. Unregistered mark protection is based on common law and the federal Lanham Act. Yet, if you’re debating whether or not to register your trademark, keep reading since registration does give extra legal protections for trademark owners.
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What You Get Without Registering
Although the scope of protection is normally confined to the geographical area in which the trademark is used, an unregistered trademark (communicated by the sign TM in superscript, but this is not needed) is nonetheless protected against infringement and dilution under common law. As a result, you may demand that people utilizing your trademark without a license stop doing so and possibly take legal action. But, if you do not register your trademark, your alternatives are more restricted. You will also need to demonstrate that it is a genuine trademark, and your options for minimizing trademark infringement are limited. Another constraint is that you will almost always have to rely on local or state courts, however you may be able to fight in federal courts if the infringer lives in a different state, the sum in the case exceeds $75,000, or the case is based on an interpretation of federal law (most importantly the Lanham Act).
Why You Should Think About Registering
If you register your trademark with the USPTO, you will have more choices for dealing with trademark infringement. Federal registration is also required:
That makes it simpler to take the case to federal court.
If it is a legal mark, it grants trademark rights across the United States, barring infringers from claiming ignorance of the trademark.
Increases infringement remedies, including triple damages and criminal penalties in instances of counterfeiting.
The most appealing advantage of registering a trademark is that it may be qualified for incontestability. The trademark may become incontestable after five years of unchallenged registration. For example, it cannot be challenged on the basis that it is just descriptive and hence ineligible for registration. As a result, registering trademark designs and other aspects is a solid business option in general.
If you have any questions regarding registering your trademark, it’s usually a good idea to consult someone who knows the procedure and can provide you guidance based on your specific circumstances. Request trademark assistance from a lawyer.