Trademark. Registered Trademark.
Today, I looked at 10 different websites, paying special attention to how they handled their trademark. I was surprised to see that all but two did not correctly show their trademark. And, I was even more surprised, when I did a quick search to discover that 5 of the 10 trademarks were cancelled.
Are you one of the tens of thousands of people who have a registered trademark with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office? A distinctive word, name, phrase, design, or logo, which distinguishes your product or service from those of someone else? If so, you probably invested a lot of time and/or money making sure it was done correctly—right? At least I hope so. If not, regardless of what I say here, you may have a different set of problems to deal with later.
Oftentimes people go to trademark mills (e.g., LegalZoom), where they can “arguably” get a correctly filed registration for little to no money. Unfortunately, many folks don’t discover the inaccuracy of that, until it is too late. They go along thinking they have a valid trademark. Then one day, when trying to stop an alleged infringer, they discover things are not as they appear—there is no protection to be had.
Trademark Post Formalities.
Did you know that in order for you to keep and protect your valuable trademark, there are certain things you absolutely must do? In the world of trademarks, we call them post-registration formalities. Among the actions you must take after you receive your trademark registration are:
- Use it. Use your trademark the way you said you were using it, when you filed Statement of Use
- Use it correctly. Make sure your trademark stands out.
- Use the appropriate trademark symbol correctly.
- Monitor your trademark. Make sure no one else is using your trademark without your permission.
- File Declaration Continued of Use. Between years 5-6, make sure you file this document. If you miss this deadline, your registration will automatically cancel, and no one will tell you.
- Renew your trademark. A trademark lasts forever, so long as you File Declaration Continued of Use. Between years 5-6, make sure you file this document. If you miss this deadline, your registration will automatically cancel, and no one will tell you.
“I didn’t know that! No one ever told me,” some of you may be saying. Well maybe that’s true, and maybe not. Sometimes clients don’t pay attention, and sometimes they don’t understand the importance of these steps. I know for myself, every time I register a trademark for a client I discuss how they should use the mark. Not only do I discuss the steps they should take, but give them a cheat sheet with explicit instructions.
Protect your registered trademark today. Use! Monitor it! Renew!
Trademark Attorney. Francine Ward.
I’m Attorney Francine Ward. If you need help, give me a call. Join my conversation on my Law Facebook Fan Page, my Law Twitter Page, in one of my Google+ Circles, or in one of my LinkedIn Group discussions.