The Good News is that the trademark system is use based. This means that as soon as you create and start using a brand name or trademark in commerce for a legitimate business, you begin to get credit for using the trademark. This also means that you automatically start establishing rights to exclusive use of your trademark in the area where you are doing business… so long as you have a valid trademark. For example, if you start brewing beer in your garage and sell it to folks in your town then you begin to establish a right to exclusive use of the unregistered trademark that you use on your beer, in your town where you are operating and distributing.
Obviously, many businesses are looking to grow and expand their customer base and distribution areas and this is where a key benefit of registering a trademark comes into play. One of the key benefits of registering a Trademark with the USPTO is that the owner of a registered trademark is granted exclusive rights to use the trademark nationally. Exclusive use of a trademark nationally, verses regional use, is a powerful tool for a growing business. Back to the brewery example, as a beer brand grows… the rights to use the registered trademark are already reserved for the trademark owner’s exclusive use, anywhere in the country.
In addition to the obvious benefit of being able to use a trademark nationally to help grow the brand, there are also other strategic benefits to owning a registered trademark. Owning a registered trademark blocks other businesses, who sell similar goods and services, from registering trademarks that are too similar to yours. This can be a powerful tool in protecting a brand and market share. [Note, the registered trademark symbol ® can only be used after a trademark is registered]
See also: Other blog posts on trademarks and trademark registration at –> https://iplegalfreebies.wordpress.com/category/t-r-a-d-e-m-a-r-k; USPTO site for more trademark basics at –> www.uspto.gov/sites/default/files/documents/BasicFacts.pdf; @iplegalfreebies and www.kasterlegal.com.
BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.