Why Your Startup Should Apply for a Federal Trademark

September 3, 2014 — Leave a comment

You’ve picked the perfect name for your new business; you even secured a reasonable domain name. And now you are ready to order business cards and start selling.

But have you thought about protecting your new name? If not, you should. And in this week’s post we will explain why.

Avoid Future Conflicts

The first reason is actually a bit reversed. You should go through the process of applying for a federal trademark so you can try to find prior users of the mark you want to use. A normal application process includes a search of the USPTO database and also a common law trademark search.

All too often new businesses fail to perform these searches and later learn of a prior user. Unfortunately, they often learn about that prior user through the receipt of a cease and desist letter. And when you receive such a letter, you will (at least in many cases) have to adopt a new brand at a great cost.

Stop Infringers

We have explained in the past that you don’t technically need a registration to claim trademark rights in a mark. However, if someone infringes your common law trademark rights, your cease and desist letter is a little less convincing and many infringers will ignore the demand.

The benefit of a registration is that you get a certificate from the USPTO that provides a legal presumption that you are the rightful owner of the mark. Once you have such a certificate, you can enclose a copy with your cease and desist letter to get infringers to end their infringement even faster!

National Protection

One of the biggest reasons to seek a federal trademark is national protection of your mark. When you rely on common law protection you can only claim rights in the geographic are in which you actually use the mark (plus a reasonable expansion area).

However, by obtaining a federal registration, you can stop new businesses from using your mark anywhere in the country. That is obviously a big benefit and with more and more businesses being transacted digitally all over the country, that benefit will come in handy.

Access to Federal Courts & Higher Damages

Lastly, without a federal trademark registration, you cannot file a lawsuit in federal court. If you wait until you find an infringer to file your application, waiting on the application will simply slow down your lawsuit and cause delays. And if you wait too long, the long-term damage of not being able to stop an infringer can be devastating.

Additionally, having a federal registration will give you power to seek larger damages and possibly even attorneys fees against an infringer.

How to Do It

Luckily, obtaining a federal registration doesn’t have to break the bank or be too complicated. You just have to find the right help. That’s where Mighty Marks® comes in. If you want help protecting your new business name, contact Mighty Marks® today!


Image: Thinkstock/Robert Churchill

*This article is very general in nature and does not constitute legal advice. Readers with legal questions should consult with an attorney prior to making any legal decisions.

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