Trademarks are a fantastic way to secure your brand. But how do you know if you really need to invest the time and expense in registering a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)? There are at least four reasons a trademark registration may not be necessary.
- Use is limited. Is your product use limited to a certain location? Is the trademark needed only for a brief period? If you can answer yes to these questions, it may not be worth seeking registration with the USPTO.
- Copying is not a threat. You may operate in an industry that is not highly identified by brands. If branding is not a big deal, you are probably not too worried about copycats. You can simply register one or two top brands within your company and leave the rest unregistered.
- Your trademark is descriptive. If your trademark has a dictionary meaning commonly used to describe your products or services, the USPTO may reject your trademark application for being merely descriptive. You will need to prove that your mark has obtained secondary meaning in the market for more than five years by providing consumer surveys, advertising results, and gross sales for a period of time, so you may want to leave your trademark unregistered until you have obtained secondary meaning for five years or more.
- Competition is crowded. The USPTO may be handling several other similar registrations, in which case they will either suspend your application or refuse to register your mark due to likelihood of confusion among consumers. Consider finding a new angle and developing another brand.
You should consider registering a trademark if your brand products or services are being offered in international markets or if you are worried about infringement. A trademark provides these important benefits:
- Full nationwide ownership
- Public record of ownership
- Infringement protection
When you are ready to file a trademark application, it is wise to seek the opinion of an intellectual property attorney before you move forward with the registration process. The Marks Gray Intellectual Property team can help you navigate the registration process and improve your chances of obtaining a certificate of registration from the USPTO.