You may have seen in the news that the Washington Redskins had its trademark registration canceled on the grounds that it was “disparaging to Native Americans.”
But what is a trademark, anyway? And who should get one?
According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, a trademark is, “a word, phrase, symbol, or design or combination thereof that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.”
While you don’t necessarily have to register your trademark, owning a federal trademark on the Principal Register (the registry of trademarks maintained by the USPTO) has important benefits like:
Public notice of your claim of ownership of the mark;
A legal presumption of your ownership of the mark and your exclusive right to use the mark nationwide on or in connection with the goods/services listed in the registration
The ability to bring an action concerning the mark in federal court
The use of the U.S. registration as a basis to obtain registration in foreign countries
The ability to record the U.S. registration with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Service to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods
The right to use the federal registration symbol ®
Listing in the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s online databases.
Businesses often consider registering for trademarks to better protect intellectual property and products.
You can file for a trademark through the online TEAS system. Keep in mind, the registration process requires you to satisfy strict requirements and deadlines, so you may want to consider working with an attorney on this.