As a business owner, you want to brand your products with your company name so that customers know what to expect when they purchase your product. You also want to make sure that other companies cannot brand their products with the same or similar mark to confuse customers into purchasing their products, thinking they were made by your company. The best way to distinguish your products from the rest is to apply for a trademark.
What is a trademark?
A trademark can take many forms, depending on the type of product you are selling. Most trademarks are: words, phrases, symbols and/or designs. If you are selling a service rather than a product, you may apply for a service mark. Service marks also can take the same forms as trademarks.
How long do they last?
Trademarks can last for an indefinite amount of time, as long as you continue to use them to identify products and services in commerce. Once you register a trademark, you will need to keep up with the necessary documentation and fees to keep your trademark registration valid.
Do I have to register my trademark?
Not necessarily, but there are many benefits to registering a trademark. By registering your trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), you will protect your business and potentially help increase profits. Without a registered trademark, you could be sued for infringement by another company with the same or similar mark as you. As a result, you could be forced to change the name/mark of your company, give up profits earned under the unregistered mark, and pay punitive damages. Additionally, a registered trademark offers you protection by allowing you to seek damages from anyone who uses your registered trademark for their business.
What can a trademark attorney do for me?
A Minneapolis attorney experienced with trademark issues can advise you as you select your trademark, conduct a trademark search to make sure your trademark is not already being used, and assist with the registration process. If you find that someone is using your trademark, your attorney can help you file a trademark infringement claim against them for damages.