Unregistered Trademark Protection
Filing for trademark protection with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) offers strong protection of your intellectual rights. However, a person can still have some degree of trademark protection without ever formally registering the mark with a government agency. Unregistered trademarks can be protected under common law rights as long as the mark is used in commerce. While this type of trademark protection is not as strong as a federally registered trademark, it can provide the level of protection that most businesses need.
Unregistered vs. Registered Trademarks
Aside from the act of registering with the USPTO, there are a number of other differences between registered and unregistered trademarks. For instance, the sign used to denote the trademark differs between unregistered and registered trademarks. Unregistered trademarks can use the TM symbol for goods to show that this mark has been adopted as a trademark despite not being registered with the USPTO. Registered trademarks are legally allowed to utilize the ® symbol to denote that this mark is formally recognized and protected nationwide.
When deciding what level of protection you need, the biggest factor to consider is the scope of your business. If you are planning to spread across the country, then the nationwide protection of a registered mark is what you are seeking. Unregistered trademarks are typically only enforceable at the local level where the business is currently operating. While there is some protection offered with unregistered trademarks, officially filing for trademark protection does offer numerous benefits including:
- Public notice of your claim of ownership to the mark
- Being listed in the USPTO’s online database as a federally protected trademark
- Exclusive rights to your mark nationwide
- The ability to bring an action to federal court
Contact an Intellectual Property Attorney Today
If you are in business and would like your intellectual property protected, it is important to know whether unregistered or registered trademark protection is best for you. The attorneys at Gagnon, Peacock & Vereeke, P.C., have experience working with all types of intellectual property and can help you acquire the protection you need. Give us a call today at [phone number] to ask about how we can help you protect your business.