Do you wish to file for a trademark? Here are answers to some common questions you might find useful before you proceed to the next step.
- Why Is a Trademark Valuable?
A trademark represents the reputation of your business and it can help your business grow by increasing consumer recognition of your products or services and by making it more attractive to outside capital.
- Who Can File?
Only people doing business across state lines or doing business in the U.S. with a foreign country can file for a federal registration of their mark. This is because the Lanham Act of 1946, the federal statute which defines trademark registration rules, is based on the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. If you are selling or transporting goods in interstate commerce or rendering services to out-of-state customers, either online or in person, or if you have offices, licensees, or franchisees in another state, you qualify. Even people in the planning stage of their business can file for a trademark if they opt for an intent-to-use application.
- Does Registration With the USPTO Create Legal Rights in a Mark?
Legal rights in a trademark are created through use in commerce. A trademark registration with the USPTO can only enhance those rights, for example, by creating a presumption of your exclusive right to use the mark nationwide on or in connection with the goods or services listed in the registration, but it is not meant to reward you with the right to use the mark. Protectable rights in a mark arise from first use rather than registration with the USPTO.
- What Are the Benefits of Registering a Mark?
Trademark registration provides important benefits over common law use of a mark alone, including a legal presumption of ownership of the mark and a nationwide priority over later users of the mark. In addition, a federal trademark registration provides a public notice of your claim of ownership of the mark and allows you to use the “®” symbol on or in connection with the goods or services specified therein. You may record the registration with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods, bring a lawsuit in federal court to protect your mark, and obtain registration in foreign countries based on the issued U.S. registration.