Do you need to file for trademark registration?

You may be asking yourself if you really need to file for trademark registration. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons and common questions so you can determine what works best for your individual situation.

What is a trademark? A trademark is a registered symbol or sign that is created to distinguish a product from its competitors. It can be a logo, a name, a shape, a color, a sound, a slogan, or even a domain name. It can also be any combination of these. It must be distinctive for it to become registered as a trademark. This means that it must not be similar or identical to other trademarks. It also must not be deceptive or confusing to consumers.

What do the symbols associated with a trademark mean?

  • ™ is used for an unregistered trademark or a trademark for which protection has been applied but not yet granted
  •  ® is used for a registered trademark

How long does trademark registration last? The duration of a trademark’s registration in the U.S. is 10 years of continued use, after which it must be renewed.

Does filing for trademark registration in the U.S. provide protection in the U.S. only? Yes, a trademark is protected by registering it in a specific territory or country. Each country has its own rules and regulations regarding registration. The registration process can be expensive if done in several countries, so the risk of not registering should be considered when making the decision about whether and where to register.

How do you get started? Registration of a trademark usually starts with a search to see if there are any conflicting or similar trademarks. An attorney can prepare the application for you. In the U.S., the application is analyzed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office to determine if the proposed trademark meets the necessary legal criteria for registration. It must distinguish the goods or services without confusing or deceiving the consumers. If there are any challenges from third parties, who might have similar trademarks registered, these challenges must be addressed before registration is confirmed.

What are the advantages?

  • Registering a trademark allows the owner to control who uses it and how it is used
  • Registration gives the owner exclusive rights to the use of the property. This will deter others from misusing it or pretending that someone else is the owner.
  • Registering a trademark allows the owner to take legal action against anyone who uses the trademark without permission, and to be compensated for misuse.

What are the disadvantages?

  • There is a cost to register and in some circumstances registration can be expensive.
  • Not all symbols can be registered.
  • Registration needs to be renewed every 10 years.
  • For registration, you must be using or intend to use the trademark and you must show how you are using it.
  • Registration is limited to a particular country. To protect trademarks in countries other than the U.S., additional registrations are required.

What are the Dos and Don’ts to consider?

Do:

  • Consider registering your trademarks.
  • Balance the cost of registering against the risk and complications of being unprotected.
  • Involve your attorney in the evaluation of both the risks and potential benefits of registering your trademarks.
  • Decide carefully what countries you will protection in.

Don’t

  • Don’t think that having a trademark will give you protection without registration.
  • Don’t assume that all trademarks can be registered.
  • Don’t ignore an infringement of your trademark.

If you want more information on filing trademarks in the U.S. check out the USPTO website http://www.uspto.gov/faq/trademarks.jsp or leave a comment/question. Good luck!

Debby Winters

Did I Really Give Facebook All Rights To Everything I Post?

“You hereby grant Facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to (a) use, copy, publish, stream, store, retain, publicly perform or display, transmit, scan, reformat, modify, edit, frame, translate, excerpt, adapt, create derivative works and distribute (through multiple tiers), any User Content you (i) Post on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof subject only to your privacy settings or (ii) enable a user to Post, including by offering a Share Link on your website and (b) to use your name, likeness and image for any purpose, including commercial or advertising, each of (a) and (b) on or in connection with the Facebook Service or the promotion thereof. You represent and warrant that you have all rights and permissions to grant the foregoing licenses.”

That is an excerpt from the Terms and Conditions that you agreed to when you set up your Facebook page. But what does it mean? How does it affect your rights?

It means that Facebook can use your name, picture and essentially your identity for it owns purposes, with virtually no obligation to you.

It means Facebook may alter any content you post in any way it sees fit.

It also means Facebook can use any content that you post to make money, however it sees fit, it is not obligated to give you credit or remunerate you.

Furthermore, it doesn’t matter what you delete, Facebook has records of it all and even if you delete your page it still keeps all your info, your profile, etc. The license you granted Facebook used to expire if you deleted the information but that part of the license has been removed. This section of the license has been added to the termination section so that termination of your account gives Facebook the right to retain license to your information.

You may be asking why Facebook does this. Well, one reason is that the information you post on Facebook may end up on servers outside of Facebook’s control. Taking over rights to virtually everything is a way for Facebook to avoid lawsuits over things that aren’t even stored on Facebook any more.

You can avoid posting pictures and updates to try to reduce Facebook from obtaining rights to what you thought you own, but if your friends post things, your rights disappear with those postings.

This is just another way that IP matters to individuals. Think about what you post BEFORE you post it. You lose all rights when you post, rights you can never get back.

Debby Winters