Creative and thoughtful branding is key to many businesses.  Trademarks allow you to distinguish your product and service from those of competitors. They symbolize your reputation and distinguish your business.

If you have a brand name associated with your business, then you should consider protecting it via trademark registrations.  Trademark registrations grant you the exclusive right to use a mark for registered products/services in each country where it is registered.  Moreover, simply having your trademark registered can deter third parties from adopting or using potentially confusing marks.

When registering your marks, consider the following:

  1. Be sure to select a distinctive term for your brand name. The more unique the trademark, the easier it is to protect and enforce your rights in it.  Among other things, terms that describe the product or service, are really just known to be a surname, and/or terms that are already used in association with similar products or services cannot be registered.
  2. Before you apply for registration, retain experienced trademark counsel to conduct appropriate searches in every jurisdiction of interest. Searches are the best tool for assessing risks associated with adoption, use and registration of a brand.
  3. Remember that you can apply for registration event if you have not used a mark yet. In the U.S.,  you can file your application on the basis of an intention to use the trademark.  If you have a registration for the trademark in another country, you can often rely on that registration to register your mark in the U.S.
  4. If you are planning on selling your product or providing your service in connection with the trademark outside of the U.S., then consider registering your trademark in the countries in which you plan to use it.
  5. Think ahead. Even if you don’t have immediate plans to sell in a certain country, do you want to be there in 5 years?  If so, file in those places, too.
  6. Securing domain names for your trademark is smart from a business perspective, but domain names alone do not give you any trademark rights in the brand.  Domain names and trademarks are distinct legal instruments that require separate registration processes and give you different rights.
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