Business owners and individuals should be concerned with protecting their brand identity, which means taking active steps to protect their trademark. The best avenue of protection is Federal Registration of the business or individual’s trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
The right to use a trademark does not come from Federal Registration, instead, the first business or individual to use a distinctive trademark in commerce has the right to use the mark and exclude others from using a confusingly similar trademark. However, this right of use is limited to the geographic location in which the trademark is being used. Registration provides nationwide priority over the trademark. Federal registration also creates a public record of the trademark and puts others on notice. Federal registration can create presumptive evidence of trademark ownership and exclusive right to use the trademark throughout the United States. Federal registration can also provide the basis of obtaining registration in foreign countries. Also, Federal registration provides the ability to file a suit related to the trademark in a federal court and recover the defendant’s profits and up to three times your actual damages, as well as your attorney fees if the court finds the case to be exceptional.
Patrick R. Sturdy is a partner in our Livonia office where he concentrates his practice on intellectual property, business law, education law, and employment and labor law. He may be reached at (734) 261-2400 or firstname.lastname@example.org.