Trademark registration is one of the most important aspects of owning and managing a business in Florida. Considering the growing competitiveness all companies in Florida must face daily to survive, protecting a powerful logo or brand name may be the difference between success and failure.
Still, some business owners opt not to go through a trademark registration process. Although trademark rights arise from its active use in business, it is crucial to understand the liabilities associated with unregistered trademarks.
In this article, you will discover all you need to know about unregistered trademarks in Florida.
Unregistered Trademark in Florida – The Basics
Before understanding the risk associated with unregistered trademarks, it is crucial to understand why some business owners may prefer to not register their marks.
First, unregistered trademarks are still enforceable in court. Whenever a company starts using a particular mark (e.g., a brand name, logo, design, etc.) associated with its products or services, that particular mark will automatically grant its owners a significant level of protection.
The Lanham Act, the federal law that governs trademarks in the United States, provides that unregistered trademarks are protected under law – as long as the trademark owner is engaged in legitimate business activity.
The long-term use of an unregistered trademark may generate a common law trademark. Essentially, the term “common law trademark” refers to the right acquired by someone to utilize a specific brand name, logo, or symbol that is often associated with a specific product or service.
This way, it is possible to file a trademark infringement lawsuit to protect a common law trademark that is not registered at the state or federal level. However, the legal protection for common law trademark is restricted to the specific geographic area where the mark is used in business.
Also, many entrepreneurs decide to not register a trademark to avoid incurring expenses and time-consuming processing demands. Typically, this type of approach is attractive to newer businesses with limited capital.
Is there a Risk to Use an Unregistered Trademark in Florida? – A Realistic Overview
Still, unregistered trademarks have their share of risk. Consequently, entrepreneurs who opt for not registering a trademark in Florida should be aware of the risks incurred by their choice.
Fundamentally, an unregistered trademark will not offer the same level of protection against an eventual case of infringement when compared with a registered trademark. While unregistered marks only offer protection within a limited area, a federally registered trademark is protected anywhere in the United States.
When someone registers a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the mark is published in a public record. Hence, it becomes accessible for anyone in the country, providing notice to competitors and avoiding potential infringement cases.
Most importantly, owning a registered trademark gives the legitimate owner a presumption of validity. When litigating an infringement case, a presumption of validity will help the plaintiff by placing a greater burden on the accused infringer to demonstrate the mark is invalid.
Benefits of Trademark Registration in Florida
Although registering a trademark with the USPTO requires the payment of an upfront fee and a standard processing time, it has several benefits that include:
- Protection against confusingly similar trademarks
- The right to use an infringer in a federal court
- Blocking counterfeits or imports that incur trademark infringement
- Right to statutory damages (in case of winning an infringement lawsuit)
Do You Want to Register a Trademark in Florida? – Work with Attorney Romy B. Jurado Today
With a decade of experience helping companies protect intellectual property, Attorney Romy B. Jurado will ensure a smooth trademark registration process. Contact us by calling (305) 921-0440 or emailing Romy@jflawfirm.com to schedule a consultation.