Insight

Protect Two of Your Most Valuable Business Assets: Your Company Name and Important Brand Names

Your company name and important brand names are two types of your most valuable business assets. Without your company name and brand names, consumers and trade buyers would not be able to identify easily (and choose) your goods or services over those of another.

Protecting Company Names
Paul C. Van Slyke

Paul C. Van Slyke

November 18, 2016 12:00 AM

Protect Two of Your Most Valuable Business Assets…Your Company Name and Important Brand Names!
Your company name and important brand names are two types of your most valuable business assets. Without your company name and brand names, consumers and trade buyers would not be able to identify easily (and choose) your goods or services over those of another. Without a registered trademark, your brand protection rights are limited. An experienced trademark lawyer can guide you through the process of selecting a new company name or brand name:
• Arrange for a comprehensive search to determine if you are free to use your company name and to use and register your brand name.
• Give you an attorney opinion letter describing your right to use the company name and to use and register the brand name.
• Apply for federal or state trademark registration of your brand name.

WHY YOU SHOULD REGISTER YOUR TRADEMARK
A federally registered trademark protects your brand name, logo or slogan from unauthorized use by others. A registered trademark provides legal protection and enforceable rights under the law against competitors and provides a basis to use for trademark infringement if someone starts using your mark without permission on similar or related goods or services. A federally registered trademark guarantees:
• Use of the registered trademark symbol (®) alongside your brand or logo.
• Legal notice to the public of your claim of ownership and exclusive right to use the mark in connection with the goods or services listed in the registration.
• National priority against anyone who attempts to use or register a confusingly similar mark.
• The ability to bring an action concerning the mark in federal court.
• In a case of trademark infringement, registered trademark owners are entitled to seek in exceptional cases triple damages plus attorneys' fees.
• The U.S. registration may be used as a basis to obtain registration in foreign countries.
• A federal trademark registration may be filed with the U.S. Customs Service to block the importation of infringing foreign goods.
• Ability to shut down Internet domain names that attempt to infringe upon your mark.
• After five years of registration, your right in the mark becomes incontestable, eliminating nearly every defense to trademark infringement.

Complete Trademark Application Service
A typical federal trademark application is filed in one class of goods or services according to the Trademark Classification Manual of the USPTO. After signature by the client, this application is electronically filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This service typically also includes non-substantive responses to the USPTO while your application is pending, and an electronic copy of your trademark registration certificate once your mark is registered.
Federal trademark applications come in two types: Actual-Use-Based applications where the mark is already in use in the ordinary course of trade and Intent-To-Use applications where the mark has not been already in use in the ordinary course of trade, but the applicant has a good-faith intention to use the proposed mark in the ordinary course of trade.
There are two registers on which marks may be federally registered at the U.S. Pat. & Trademark Office: the Principal Register and the Supplemental Register. Most applications are filed and granted on the Principal register that is reserved for non-descriptive trademarks. The Supplemental Register is reserved for descriptive trademarks that are still capable of identifying and distinguishing the goods and services. Sometimes the USPTO requires that applications on the Principal Register be transferred to the Supplemental Register for registration.
If your business is local or your goods or services delivered locally and not selling on a website, you may be able to apply for registration of your brand name in one of the State trademark registers offered in each of the 50 states of the USA. These state registrations can be obtained in about two months as opposed to 18 months for federal registration.

Other USPTO Actions
Trademark attorneys can assist in preparing Letters of Protest to stop the registration of a potentially confusing mark before publication, Petitions to Cancel registered marks that may have been wrongfully allowed registration, and USPTO Opposition Proceedings, a formal action to oppose the registration of a potentially confusing mark after publication.

International Trademark Registration
A trademark attorney in Houston can help protect your brand in the global marketplace. Many currently offer in-house international trademark services in the European Union (with the Office for Harmonization of the Internal Market, or OHIM), Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and countries under the Madrid System for the International Registration of Trademarks (Madrid Protocol or Madrid System).

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