Basic Trademark Laws that You Should Know for Your Business

Creating a unique identity and recognizable brand for your business is often critical to success. A trademark is one way to forge an identity for your business that differentiates it from competitors. A Hollywood business transaction lawyer at Kramer Green can assist you with trademark registration and any other steps necessary to protect the identity and future of your business.

Understanding Trademarks

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) defines a trademark as “[a] word, phrase, design, or a combination that identifies your goods or services, distinguishes them from the goods or services of others, and indicates the source of your goods or services.” Your trademark rights arise from the first time you use a trademark for your business.

Almost anything can be a trademark – a word, a slogan, a phrase, a design, or a combination of these things. You can register a trademark in standard character format, which protects the words, regardless of font size, style, or color. On the other hand, you can register a trademark in special form, which protects the words in a particular stylized format, often including the font size, font type, and color, or incorporating designs or logos. Some businesses choose to trademark words in both standard character format and one or more special form formats.

When registering a trademark, you must specifically identify the specific goods or services being used with that trademark. You can use a trademark to identify more than one good or service or a combination of goods and services.

The Importance of Trademarks

Trademarks can be essential to your business for various reasons. First, a business name and symbol or log set it apart from other businesses that may provide similar goods or services in your industry or geographical area. Trademarks make it easier for customers to distinguish your business from others and capture their attention.

Federal and state trademark registration gives you a legal presumption of ownership of that trademark and the exclusive right to use it with your business. Other businesses may not use your trademark for financial gain. If other businesses attempt to use or infringe upon your trademark, you have the legal right to file a lawsuit against them to enforce your trademark rights.

Your business trademark becomes an asset of your company that can be bought and sold like any other asset. As the value of your business grows, so does the value of your trademark. Your trademark may pave the way for expanding your business into other industries and geographical areas.

While certain aspects of your business may change, a trademark can last forever. The permanence of a trademark can allow customers to recognize your business and its products or services indefinitely. This permanence and continuity likely outweigh the costs involved in trademark registration.

Federal Trademark Registration

Registering your trademark with the USPTO creates rights throughout the U.S. and its territories. It also includes your trademark in the USPTO public registration database. Federal trademark registration allows you to use the ® symbol with your trademark. However, the USPTO is not an enforcement agency, so you would have to pursue any individuals or businesses who appear to be infringing upon your trademark rights.

You must also file certain documents to maintain your trademark after registering it with the USPTO. You must file a “Declaration of Use and/or Excusable Nonuse of a Mark Under Section 8” form between the fifth and sixth years after registration. Likewise, every ten years after registration, you must file a “Combined Declaration of Use and/or Excusable Nonuse/Application for Renewals Under Sections 8 and 9.” Failure to file these maintenance documents will result in your trademark being canceled. However, so long as you properly maintain your trademark, it will never expire.

Florida State Trademark Registration

Florida Statutes §495.001 et seq. governs the registration and protection of trademarks. As with federal trademark protection, state trademark protection begins from the first time you use a trademark in connection with the goods and/or services your business provides. However, state trademark registration does not offer the same level of protection as federal trademark registration. State trademark registration protects your trademark only within Florida and lasts only five years. However, you can renew state trademark registration by paying renewal fees six months before the five-year expiration date.

Allow Us to Assist You with Your Business Law Needs Today

A Fort Lauderdale business transaction attorney at Kramer, Green, Zuckerman, Greene & Buchsbaum, P.A. can provide the tools you need to help your business operate smoothly, including federal or state trademark registration. Call us today at (954) 966-2112 or contact us online to set up a time to discuss your legal issues with our experienced Boca Raton business lawyers.

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