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ATTENTION ALL BUSINESS OWNERS: MAKE SURE YOU REGISTER YOUR TRADEMARKS!

By: Jillian A. Centanni, Esq.

            A trademark is a form of intellectual property that protects and strengthens a company’s brand. A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods or services of one company from another. Examples of well-known trademarks include The Nike Swoosh, McDonald’s Golden Arch, Coco Chanel, Geico’s talking gecko, and Starbucks’s Siren logo. Registering a logo, slogan or company name can be advantageous for many reasons. Additionally, failing to register a trademark can cost more than in comparison in the losses incurred for failing to do so. Here are some reasons why it is beneficial to register your trademark with the United States Patent & Trademark Office (“USPTO”).

1.     A Federal Registered Trademark Increases A Businesses’ Value

          A trademark is an intangible asset that demonstrates an intellectual and emotional attribute and message about the company, the company’s reputation, and the company’s products and services. When an individual sees the Apple® trademark, the individual is fully aware that computers, computer software, and computer peripherals are the goods associated with the Apple® trademark. Having a registered trademark enables a company to use the ® symbol, as opposed to the TM or SM symbols, adding legitimacy to a company. Additionally, having a federally registered trademark may increase the sale price of the company. The more a company’s reputation grows, the more valuable a company’s brand will be. 

2.     A Federal Registered Trademark Provides Constructive Notice   

          Having a registered federal trademark establishes a presumption of ownership in a court of law and puts others on “constructive notice.” If a company does not register a trademark with the USPTO, an owner of a common law trademark (i.e., mere use of a trademark in interstate commerce) must prove that the company uses and owns the trademark if someone else uses the trademark or a mark that is confusingly similar to the trademark in commerce.  This can be expensive and time consuming to prove in court. A cease and desist letter which mentions the registration number of the trademark can be a useful tool to stop the individual or company from using the trademark. This will prevent others from diluting or stealing a company’s brand.

3.     A Federal Registered Trademark Provides Stronger Protection And May Allow For Triple Damages

           When a trademark has been registered with the USPTO for more than five years, a company can apply to have the trademark declared uncontestable.  This means that the company’s exclusive use of the trademark is conclusively established in court. Trademark registration may also allow a company to collect triple damages and attorney fees if the company is successful.  Further, a registered trademark will subject to federal court, as opposed to state court which offers several advantages. 

            Contact The J. A. Centanni Law Firm, P.C. at 908-753-0153 or jillian@jacentannilaw.com to help with your intellectual property needs. Jillian A. Centanni, Esq. is the Owner and Founding Member of The J. A. Centanni Law Firm, P.C. Ms. Centanni has a B.S.E. in chemical engineering, an M.B.A. in financial markets and management science, and a J.D. She was recently named to the Super Lawyers® - Rising Star list, a designation given to the top 2.5% of Attorneys licensed in New Jersey who have been practicing law for less than 10 years or are under the age of 40.  She is also a Registered Patent Attorney. 

Jillian A. Centanni