Nowadays, almost anything can become a trademark (if you follow the proper legal steps, of course). And, while there are some ridiculous trademarks out there, it’s quite evident that you need the protection of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (if you are in the US) to keep your brand from being copied and tarnished to everyone’s content.
When you have a registered trademark on your brand or the design of a product or a catchphrase, you are the only one who can use it. If anyone else uses your trademark in an attempt to make a profit or simply passes it as their own, it becomes a case of infringement and you can take them to court.
But, before you jump on the trademark train, here are a few things you should be aware of (especially as a new entrepreneur).
Register Your Trademark Correctly
The trademark registration process has a few steps that are designed to eliminate any inconsistencies, find already existing trademarks, and verify that the claim is valid and applicable. While you can go through all these steps alone, it takes time to research and dig into the legal terms, which may not be how an entrepreneur wants to spend their time. Search trademark records for free before you apply to ensure that your trademark is unique or has already been registered.
Therefore, to make sure your registration is correct and nothing is missing, it’s best to use the services of a company specialized in trademark registration like Nominus. A specialist can also provide advice on the best steps to take and how to protect your trademark once it’s active.
Trademark Protection Is Based On Active Use
Once you made all the necessary steps and got your trademark, it doesn’t mean you can stick it in a drawer and forget about it until it’s time to use it. The USPTO requires trademark owners to submit regular renewal fillings to check if the trademark is still active and viable. Therefore, if you miss one of these deadlines, you risk losing the trademark.
Luckily, the USPTO offers trademark owners the possibility to track the status of their trademarks by accessing a dedicated search engine and performing a search based on the serial or registration number.
Keep in mind that you won’t be notified in case the trademark is about to expire! It’s your job to keep track of the dates and of the renewal process.
™ vs Ⓡ
There is often confusion between these two symbols and you get to see quite a few improperly used trademarks, which may weaken the power of the trademark. Therefore, it’s important to know the ™ is used before and during the registration process and Ⓡ is used once the trademark is active.
In short, the Ⓡ symbol that accompanies a trademark signifies that the registration is complete and approved.
Trademark registration can be extremely helpful when it comes to avoiding legal battles, but you have to keep an eye on it. Not only should you check with the USPTO for renewals, but you should also pay attention to new registrations. If the office approves trademarks that are too similar to yours, you are within your rights to oppose in order to avoid any infringement operations.