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Trademark Registration Provides 5 Important Benefits

By Eric Misterovich

If you are a small business owner then trademarks can be the difference between the life and death of your business. This may sound drastic, but the business world has become much more drastically intertwined over the past decade and a half. Even small businesses now cater to a global market. Federal trademark registration is absolutely necessary for small businesses wishing to distribute products across state borders via the Internet, or even through more traditional expansion measures. Here are five important benefits of federal trademark registration:

1. Nationwide priority

– What it does:

  • Allows use of the mark in any area of the country where a prior user is not currently using the mark
  • Allows entry into the market of a prior user upon a showing of actual use of the mark in that region

– What this means for small business owners:

  • Protects your business by restricting parties using similar marks from expanding into your market
  • Allows your business to grow steadily without fear of hefty trademark litigation in new regions

2. Constructive notice of ownership and use of the mark

– What it does:

  • The United States PTO will automatically refuse to register any confusingly similar marks
  • The mark will be recorded in federal databases and appear in trademark searches
  • Permission to use the ® in conjunction with the mark

– What this means for small business owners:

  • Prevents other parties from claiming that they “innocently” adopted your mark
  • Deters other parties from accidentally (or purposely) infringing your mark
  • Sends a clear message that the mark is owned and used by your business

3. Incontestable status after 5 years

– What it does:

  • Prevents ownership and registration challenges
  • Prevents certain affirmative defenses against use of the mark

– What this means for small business owners:

  • Protects your business from the most costly types of trademark litigation
  • Further deters infringement because it strengthens protection 

4. Perpetual protection

– What it does:

  • Allows use of the mark as long as the owner regularly declares continual use

– What this means for small business owners:

  • Creates a powerful legal asset because you can license a trademark to others not in your market
  • If the business is incorporated then the trademark can continue as long as the business uses the mark

5. Litigation advantages

– What it does:

  • Automatically establishes federal jurisdiction and lessens the burden of other procedural requirements
  • Does not require proof of ownership, validity, or use of the mark
  • Allows an owner to possibly obtain treble damages in an infringement suit

– What this means for small business owners:

  • Makes litigation against infringers much more swift and cost effective
  • Protects the business from being bullied by larger corporations in frivolous trademark suits

These are very appealing benefits, but first you actually need something to trademark. If you plan on obtaining a federal trademark in the future then a good first step is to choose a unique business name that is not in use in your target market (and preferably not in use at all). This is because the same benefits listed above could also serve as disadvantages if you choose a business name that was already federally protected. So make sure to do some research prior to creating a business.

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