The Importance of Registered Trademarks
Business trademarks are important. Trademarking a business name and trademarking a logo are important ways that a business protects itself from the use of it is reputation and public good will by competitors. Trade marks are important assets of your business, and registration of a trademark and logo provide the owner with important legal rights.
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What is a Trademark?
A business trademark, or a business service mark, is a word, name, symbol, device or, any combination of these, that is adopted and used in the sale or advertising of a company’s goods or services. Business trademarks identify the source of goods or services and distinguish them from the goods or services of others. They can include such diverse identifiers as a logo, the shape of a bottle or a color pattern.
The only difference between a business trademark and a business service mark is that a trademark identifies goods, such as clothing or software, while a service mark identifies services such as an educational website or a retail store.
Business Trademark Registration
Trademark rights are protected in two ways: (1) a trademark that is used in commerce or (2) a trademark that has been registered at the federal or state level registration.
Trademark registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) provides the owner of the trademark with important and significant legal rights. A federally registered business trademark gives its owner exclusive nationwide protection, the only exception being areas where there was a prior use of the trade mark by unregistered users. After the business trademark has been in use for five years and an affidavit of use has been filed with the PTO, the mark is incontestable and is proof of the ownership and trademarkability of the trade mark.
An unregistered trademark used in commerce, also known as a “common law trademark allows a trademark owner to enjoin subsequent trademark users only in the area(s) of the country where the trademark owner established a market for their goods or services. A registered state trademark protects trademark owner’s rights only within the state where the trademark is registered.
Rights of Registered Trademark Holders
A registered trademark serves as a constructive notice to competing users to prevent infringement. Competing entrepreneurs will be alerted of the prior use of a mark by searching the trademark registry. A registered trademark owner is entitled to recover statutory damages and reasonable attorney fees when his or her trademark rights are violated.
The federal law allows a registered trademark owner to recover up to $200,000 per counterfeit mark per type of goods sold, offered for sale, or distributed. In case of an intentional or willful use of the registered trademark, the limit of recoverable damages will rise to $2,000,000.