Why You Should Not Wait to File Your Trademark Application
Published March 21, 2017
There are so many benefits to registering your trademark. The ability to protect your brand, distinguish your goods and/or services from potential competitors, and to build an increasingly valuable asset makes it a wonder why companies would ever risk waiting to file a trademark application. The costs to obtain a registered trademark are significantly less than the costs to obtain a patent, but they are equally important. Furthermore, the detriment of having to rebrand and pay damages for inadvertently infringing on another’s trademark rights far exceeds the monetary cost of trademark registration. Obtaining trademark protection should be looked at as a preventative measure to safeguard your company’s prospective success in addition to the benefits listed below. Being proactive early will help ensure your brand is not vulnerable and left without a leg to stand on should the use of your mark be contested.
1. Receive immediate significant benefits.
When you register your trademark, you are automatically entitled to the legal presumption that you are the owner of the mark and have the exclusive right to use the mark. It notifies the public of your trademark’s ownership and lists the mark in the USPTO’s database which helps prevent a company picking a trademark too similar to yours. It prevents the importation of counterfeit foreign goods - U. S. customs will not accept any imported goods that may infringe upon your trademark. A registered trademark gives you the right to bring legal action concerning your mark in federal court. You can use your U. S. registered trademark as a basis for applying for registration in other countries. Finally, you can use the ® symbol to identify your mark as a federally registered trademark with the USPTO.
2. Be the first one to the finish line.
Luckily the U. S. adheres to a “use-based” system, whereas most other countries follow a “first-to-file” system. With that said, If you do not register your mark and someone else comes along, who has been using an identical or similarly registered trademark in commerce prior to you, you could not only have to stop using your trademark, making your inventory, marketing materials, domain names worthless, and losing goodwill and online presence associated with your trademark, and you could be sued and ordered to pay pecuniary damages for infringing on the registered owner’s trademark rights. This could have all been avoided by way of a trademark search for conflicting or similar marks, had you first sought to register your trademark at the beginning.
3. Increase value to your company.
The longer a trademark is registered the stronger it becomes and the less vulnerable it becomes to attacks from a third party claiming rights to that trademark or a third party claiming that your trademark infringes upon their trademark rights. Having a registered trademark increases the value of your company, regardless. Having a very strong trademark due to it being registered for many years makes it even more valuable to, for example, a potential acquirer of your company. In fact, well known trademarks (Google, Apple, Facebook, Coca-Cola etc.) are easily worth in the multiple tens of billions of dollars.
U. S. trademarks only provide protection in the United States, so the risks of waiting to file your trademark application for registration is not exclusive to the country you do business in, especially if you ever plan to expand and do business overseas. “Bad-faith trademark filing” or “trademark squatting” is a party that purposely and actively seeks registered trademarks in a country and then turns around and registers that trademark in one or more other countries where the trademark has not yet been registered, giving them ownership and the exclusive rights to use that trademark. The intention is to get monetary compensation from the true trademark owner when they expand to that market.
Being proactive and vigilant is key to the protection and branding of your company. Waiting to file a trademark application not only puts your company at risk, but it is a missed opportunity to create value and stability.
Let us help you with your trademark needs so that you can start enjoying the benefits of a registered trademark and avoid the dangers of waiting too long to file your trademark application.