Proper Trademark Use
A trademark’s significance leads to the importance of its proper use. Whenever a trademark is written out, it should be accompanied by one of two symbols: ™ or ®. These symbols may look familiar since they appear regularly in our daily lives. The first symbol, ™, indicates to the public, along with the rest of the industry, that you are claiming this trademark as yours. ®, on the other hand, signifies that the trademark present has been officially registered with the US Patent and Trademark Office.
The second step in properly using a trademark is it should be distinguishable in one of four ways: ALL CAPS, bold, italics, or underlined. It is imperative that the trademark is used constantly and consistently. Any alteration or decline in usage, presents a person with the opportunity to argue that the mark has been abandoned
Trademark Rights and Registration
Similar to copyrights, trademark rights are acquired at the moment it is first used. When establishing your right to a trademark, it is recommended that you note the date of “first use” in your records, in the event your rights are being contested by another claiming to have used it first.
Registration is a secure and reliable way to guarantee trademark rights with the mark. Besides serving as excellent evidence of the validity of your ownership over the trademark, it also gives you the ability to sue in federal court. “Incontestability” or immunity in other words, is granted after 5 years of proven, continuous use. Damages for the improper use of a registered trademark include any actual damages incurred by the infringement, attorneys’ fees and statutory damages.
The Application Process
- Screening and Clearing – The first step of the process should begin before the application is even filed. One should determine and research whether or not their trademark is infringing on the rights of anyone else, in order to avoid lawsuits and/or future problems with competitors.
- Application is filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office, with a fee of $325-$375 per class.
- Application is strictly scrutinized, while checking for potential infringement.
- Application is approved and registered for 10 years. Trademarks can be renewed indefinitely, as long as they are continuously used in commerce, and/or become “generic”.
Despite successfully being registered and approved, managing trademarks is still essential to the preservation and protection of one’s trademark rights. Companies must still manage trademark renewals, police the marketplace, in search of possible infringement, or suffer the consequences.
Contact our firm today to schedule a consultation with one of our skilled Houston trademark attorneys.