Federal Protect | Education

Most business owner want to protect their brand with a registered trademark, but it’s not always possible (for legal reasons), or feasible (for business reasons).

To get started, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I plan to operate my business for many years, or is it short-term?
  2. Is there a chance I’ll expand operations beyond my local area or state?
  3. Would having stronger legal protection for my brand help?
  4. Would it be a problem if another business forced me to change names?
  5. Do I hope to sell my business one day?

More Than Just a Business Registration

Business registration and federal trademark registration often get conflated, but they offer different levels of protection and rights. Both are necessary for operating a successful business, but understanding the added benefits that federal trademark registration offers can save a company from future legal headaches, loss of reputation, and significant financial burden.

Nationwide Protection

One of the most significant advantages of federal trademark registration over mere business registration is the extent of the protection it provides. While a business registration only affords protection within the state where the business is registered, a federal trademark is recognized nationwide. For example, you might create Acme, Inc. registered in New York, and someone else starts Acme, Inc. in Florida, which could block your expansion or ability to operate in that state. However, a federal trademark prevents this duplication and protects your unique brand identity across all states.

Exclusive Rights to Your Brand

Federal trademark registration secures the exclusive rights to use the mark in connection with the goods and/or services listed in the registration. Once you register your trademark at the federal level, you get the exclusive right to stop other companies or individuals across the U.S. from using your trademark to sell the same products and services. This exclusive right remains effective regardless of whether the other party has successfully registered their business within a specific state.

Safeguarding Brand Value and Goodwill

Federal trademarks play a critical role in protecting the value and goodwill of your brand in the marketplace. This protection ensures that your brand maintains its distinct identity, reputation, and consumer trust associated with it, adding a layer of security that business registration alone does not provide. This is especially important in high-trust businesses, where customers must be sure they’re dealing with a genuine, authorized, and trustworthy company.

Mitigating Risk of Infringement Claims

Without federal trademark registration, even if you’ve registered your business within your state, your company is susceptible to potential trademark infringement claims. Competitors can leverage the intricacies of trademark law to harass a business that hasn’t secured federal trademark registration. They might attempt to register a similar trademark, causing confusion in the market, undermining the unregistered business’s brand, and potentially stealing customers. Competitors can also initiate costly and disruptive legal proceedings on grounds of alleged trademark infringement, potentially forcing the business to rebrand, an exercise that can lead to substantial financial loss and damage to the company’s reputation.

Federal Protection Against Foreign Competitors

When a business or product becomes successful, it’s common for non-US competitors to take advantage. By owning a federally registered trademark, U.S. companies can prohibit foreign entities from importing goods or services into the U.S. that infringe upon their trademark. This means that a U.S. company with a registered trademark can effectively maintain the exclusivity and reputation of their brand, even on an international scale.

Increase Your Business’ Value

A registered trademark can significantly increase a business’s value to investors, partners, and even enhance the acquisition value. This is primarily due to the weight a trademark carries as an intangible asset. Trademarks encapsulate the brand’s identity, reputation, and goodwill, which are often key factors considered by investors and potential partners. They provide a legally protected assurance that the brand’s unique identity and quality of goods or services will remain exclusive to the company, thus mitigating competitive risk and significantly reducing potential legal and rebranding costs.

How to Get Expert Advice

Registering a trademark is not always possible for various legal reasons, so it’s generally a good idea to find out early if it’s even an option. Contact Federal Protect to speak with a trademark expert at no cost and learn the requirements, timelines, and costs for your specific situation.

Is An Attorney Necessary?

If you are a US citizen, you have the option of using DirectFile to self-file with the assistance of a trademark expert. This program is suited for those who want to save money while having more control over their filing.

If you are not a US citizen or you are filing a complicated trademark (for example, one with multiple brand marks, logos, and usage classes), a US attorney is highly recommended. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, benefits of hiring an attorney include:

  • Providing you crucial legal advice about your trademark.
  • Conducting your trademark clearance search before you file an application.
  • Preparing your application accurately.
  • Responding to legal correspondence from the USPTO.
  • Enforcing and maintaining your trademark rights.
  • Representing you at the USPTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.
  • Shielding you from fraudulent solicitations.