Goings Legal offers expertise in:
- searching and advising on trademark availability
- choosing a strong, distinctive mark
- trademark registration and renewal
- how to appropriately use and maintain your mark
- licensing strategy, negotiations, and drafting
- brand portfolio management strategies
- stopping misuse of your marks
What is a trademark?
A trademark is a source identifier, informing consumers who is providing the goods or services and assuring them of consistency in quality. Put more simply, a trademark is your brand. A trademark can be your company/product’s name, logo, a slogan, or even distinctive colors like the green and yellow of JOHN DEERE.
Do I have to register for protection?
No, trademark protection arises from use. Simply by using the mark in commerce, you gain common law protection against infringement of your mark. However, this protection is limited and can be difficult to enforce.
While trademark rights arise from use, a registered trademark provides extra benefits, such as an expanded geographical scope of protection.
When should I register?
You should register as early as possible. Remember, though, that trademark rights arise from use, so you must use the mark in commerce before you can register it. The sooner you register, the sooner you have broad protection and peace of mind. However, it is important that you consult an attorney early in the branding process (definitely before spending time and money on branding, and possibly even before settling on a name and logo). An attorney can guide you in the right direction, helping you choose a distinctive mark and eliminate choices that may conflict with existing marks.
State vs. Federal
There are 2 types of trademark registration: state and federal. While common law rights give you rights in your area of operation, a state registration protects your mark across the whole state, but it is limited to that state. A federal registration gives you rights across the entire US. However, you must meet stricter qualifications to obtain a federal registration.