Frequently I get asked: is Federal Trademark Registration right for me? So, I decided to briefly cover this topic.
If you are currently selling, plan to sell soon, or currently are providing services across state lines, then a federal trademark registration will be a great option for you. This is the case for most businesses today.
First, you need to evaluate whether the name you are using/interested-in is unique enough to receive a trademark registration and protection. If your name is too generic, you will not be eligible for registration/protection. This is because one of the ideas behind trademark law is to protect consumers and help them identify products by recognizing the brand (i.e., the source). Essentially, the idea is to prevent confusion in the market and provide protection to those who seek to invest and develop their brands/products/services. Generic marks will not further these goals.
Hence, before approving any trademark registration, the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) will use the following classes to decide if your mark is unique and eligible for registration/protection:
- Suggestive; and
- Arbitrary or Fanciful.
Generic Marks do not get protection (as mentioned above). Descriptive marks may be eligible for registration/protection if the applicant is able to show that the trademark acquired secondary meaning. Suggestive, arbitrary, and fanciful marks are eligible for registration/protection – with fanciful marks receiving the most protection.
Next, even if your mark is not generic and you believe it is eligible for a federal trademark registration, you should check and see if the mark is available for use in commerce. Your search should include: federal, state, and common law databases to minimize the chance of infringement on someone else.
Therefore, it is always smart to seek legal advice from a licensed attorney who can assist you with intellectual property matters – before you waste time, money, and resources on developing your new brand. On the other hand, if someone else is infringing on your rights, an IP attorney can help you protect your brand, seek compensation, and stop the infringement.
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