Enforcing a trademark involves more than just registering it. When you register a trademark with the USPTO, making sure no one uses it without your permission is YOUR responsibility – not the USPTO’s. In other words, registering a trademark is only the first step. After that, you need to monitor it and enforce it, which can be tricky.
In a perfect world, you would be able to use all your registered trademarks without having to worry about someone else using them in commerce without your permission. Unfortunately, the world we live in is far from perfect. With ownership of a federally registered trademark in the United States comes great responsibility. If someone uses one of your trademarks without authorization, you will have to take action to enforce your rights. So, read on to learn what you need to know about enforcing a trademark and how I can help you do it right.
Enforcing a Trademark – 5 Steps You Need to Take
1. Create Strong Trademarks
One of the most important steps you can take to protect your trademarks is creating strong ones. In the United States, some trademarks are strong and some are weak. The strength of a trademark is determined by how distinctive it is and how easy it is for consumers to associate it with the business it represents. In other words, a strong trademark is one that is unique and so irrevocably linked to the business it represents, it instantly makes you think of that business or its products upon hearing or seeing it. Weak trademarks, on the other hand, are generic words that merely describe the products and/or services offered by a business.
2. Apply for Trademark Registration
Enforcing a trademark requires having the right to do so. Although creating a trademark and using it in commerce gives you certain rights over it, trademark registration offers several additional benefits. When you are the first user of a trademark, you receive common law rights; however, these rights are very limited. If you are serious about starting and growing a business and building a brand, then applying for federal trademark registration with the USPTO is the way to go.
When you successfully register a trademark with the USPTO, you essentially let everyone know that you have priority rights over it, which can be extremely useful if you ever find yourself in the middle of a legal battle over trademark infringement. Enforcing a trademark can be a walk in the park when you have documentation showing the mark is registered with the USPTO.
3. Use Your Trademarks and Do Not Stop Doing So
When it comes to enforcing a trademark, continuous use is the best strategy. Even after registering a trademark with the UPSTO, you will only maintain your rights over it as long as you continuously use it in commerce for the products and/or services you originally included in your registration application.
In order to maintain a trademark, you need to renew it after a certain number of years; however, you can only renew a trademark if you have used it in commerce continuously. If you cannot show that you have not stopped using your trademark, then you could lose your rights over it. In other words, creating a trademark and not using it equals not owning it.
4. Police Your Trademarks and Enforce Your Rights
As mentioned above, after you register a trademark, making sure nobody uses it without your permission is YOUR responsibility, not the USPTO’s. To do this, you must periodically search for possibly unauthorized uses of your marks or uses of marks that are confusingly similar.
If you discover that someone is using a trademark that might create confusion, the next step is to send the infringing party a cease-and-desist letter to let them know they are using a mark they should not be using. Why? Because, often, infringing parties are not aware they are using someone else’s trademark. However, if the cease-and-desist letter does not cause the alleged infringement to stop, filing a lawsuit is the next step.
5. Work with a Trademark Lawyer
When it comes to enforcing your trademarks, the best step you can take is to hire an experienced trademark lawyer to help you do so. Why? Because enforcing trademark rights is not easy, nor is it registering a trademark successfully with the USPTO. You need the help of someone who understands trademark law and intellectual property in general.
I can be your lawyer. All you need to do is get in touch with me today by calling (305) 921-0976 or emailing me at [email protected] to schedule a consultation. Protecting your trademarks is important – I can help you do it right.