10 Reasons Your Startup Needs Federal Trademark Protection Today

Posted by Randy Michels on Jan 27, 2016 11:45:17 AM

Brands are probably the most valuable assets that companies own. This is true for both large companies and startups.

Each of the 10 most valuable brands in the world is worth billions of dollars. Compare these brand values with the market value of the companies owning the brands and the power of brands is obvious.

Trademarks are one of the main components of a brand. A trademark is a brand name, slogan, or logo. It can also be a sound, a color, or even a smell. Pretty much anything can be a trademark as long as it identifies the source of goods and services and distinguishes them from the goods and services of others.

The best way to protect your trademark is with a federal trademark registration. Before pursuing federal trademark protection, however, you should run a free trademark search on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database to identify obvious conflicts with pre-existing trademarks owned by someone else.

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Topics: Trademark Registration

Harlem Globetrotters Show Off Trademark Tricks

Posted by Randy Michels on Jan 26, 2016 5:22:34 PM

 

College basketball season is heating up, and teams are positioning themselves for the NCAA tournament. Long before the NCAA tournament became the preeminent showcase for young basketball players, the country's best talent was found on the Harlem Globetrotters.

The Harlem Globetrotters began in 1926 as the Savoy Big Five. Now more than 89 years and 20,000 games later, the team has become one of the most recognizable franchises in sports.

Sign up here for a free trademark assessment and learn your safety score.

While the Globetrotters are known for their comedy and athleticism, they also have a history of playing "serious" basketball. On November 11, 2002, the Globetrotters played Vanderbilt during a three-week tour of playing college teams. I was in attendance as one of the all-time Commodore greats, Matt Freije, nailed a 18 foot fadeaway jumper at the buzzer to beat the Globetrotters 70-68. Coincidentally, a sophomore forward on that Vanderbilt squad, Corey Smith, would eventually wear the famous red, white and blue uniform himself after graduating from Vanderbilt.

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Topics: Trademark Registration

How To Brand Yourself Like A Celebrity

Posted by Randy Michels on Jan 26, 2016 4:39:13 PM

Personal brands are often the most valuable assets that celebrities own, driving demand and building relationships with fans, customers, and partners. Savvy celebrities protect their personal brands with federal trademark registrations.

Federal trademark registration provides important legal benefits such as a presumption of nationwide validity and the right to use the ® symbol. Federal registration can also be instrumental in enforcing rights with social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+.

Sign up here for a free trademark assessment and learn your safety score.

When a federal trademark application identifies a living person, the trademark can only be registered with the written consent of that person. This requirement protects people from having their names registered as trademarks by someone else. It also makes the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) the top celebrity autograph collector in the world.

Here are a few names that you might recognize from the USPTO database:

Katy Perry a/k/a Katheryn Hudson

Justin Bieber

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Topics: Branding, Trademark Registration

U.S. Customs and Border Protection: Safeguarding America's Trademarks

Posted by Randy Michels on Jan 26, 2016 3:13:29 PM

So you just received a registration certificate for your trademark from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Now what? If you want to protect your trademark rights, then you should sign up for trademark monitoring services.

Another important form of protection for your trademark registration can be obtained from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). CBP is not only tasked with safeguarding America's borders, but it's also responsible for safeguarding America's trademarks from overseas infringers.

Sign up here for a free trademark assessment and learn your safety score.

CBP examines cargo entering the United States to ensure that it is in compliance with a variety of laws. This includes determining whether or not an importation infringes on someone else's intellectual property rights. CBP maintains a database of trademarks, trade names and copyrights that have been recorded with CBP. Port personnel use this database for help in determining if there is a violation.

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Topics: Trademark Registration

6 Things To Do After You Register A Trademark

Posted by Randy Michels on Jan 26, 2016 2:16:39 PM

One of the biggest trademark stories of 2015 was the registration of our key logo with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO):

Ok, maybe our trademark registration is not that important, but it does raise the issue of what to do next. Here are the 6 things you should do after receiving a federal trademark registration:

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1. Docket deadlines

To maintain rights in the registration, the following documents must be filed with the USPTO at specified times:

  • A Declaration of Continued Use or Excusable Nonuse must be filed on or between the fifth anniversary of registration and the sixth anniversary of registration; and
  • A Declaration of Continued Use or Excusable Nonuse and an Application for Renewal must be filed on or between the ninth anniversary of registration and tenth anniversary of registration and during the last year of every ten-year period thereafter.

Failure to file these documents will result in cancellation of the registration. Trademark lawyers (like us) can help you keep track of these deadlines.

2. Use the federal trademark registration symbol

A notice of registration should be displayed with the trademark whenever it is used in connection with the goods or services recited in the registration. This notice may take the form of the words “Registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office” or “Reg. U.S. Pat. & Tm. Off.” or ®. Failure to provide notice could limit the recovery of damages for trademark violations.

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Topics: Trademark Registration

How To Properly Use Trademarks

Posted by Randy Michels on Jan 26, 2016 1:11:50 PM

Every brand, from the smallest startup to corporate giants, needs guidelines and rules to maintain its identity. These guidelines and rules typically take the form of style guides that cover everything from the design of a logo to the proper use of the organization's trademarks.

The world's most valuable brand - Apple - has one of the world's most comprehensive style guides: 

(click image to download)

Apple's style guide contains the following guidelines for properly using its trademarks in text:

These guidelines are extremely important to protecting Apple's trademarks. If its trademarks are not properly used, then their strength and enforceability can erode and rights may eventually be lost in a process known as "genericide".

Sign up here for a free trademark assessment and learn your safety score.

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Topics: Trademark Registration

How Long Does It Take To Get A Trademark Registration?

Posted by Randy Michels on Jan 26, 2016 12:57:45 PM

By now, it is well documented that one of the biggest trademark stories of 2015 was the registration of our TRUST TREE trademark. Ok, maybe our trademark registration is not that important, but it does offer some guidance on one of the most frequently asked trademark questions: how long does it take to get a registration?

We own two federal trademark registrations: U.S. Reg. No. 4,819,885 for TRUST TREE and U.S. Reg. No. 4,799,689 for the black and white version of our key logo (depicted below).

The total time for an application to be processed may be anywhere from almost a year to several years, depending on the basis for filing and the legal issues that may arise in the examination of the application. No legal issues arose during the examination of our applications (because, hey, we're trademark experts!). Despite the smooth sailing, it still took 8 months for the TRUST TREE trademark to register and 7 months for the key logo to register.

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Topics: Trademark Registration

Should I Register My Trademark?

Posted by Randy Michels on Jan 22, 2016 7:13:25 AM

A trademark is a brand name, slogan, or logo. It can also be a sound, a color, or even a smell. Pretty much anything can be a trademark as long as it identifies the source of goods and services and distinguishes them from the goods and services of others.

Sign up here for a free trademark assessment and learn your safety score.

The best way to protect your trademark is by registering it with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The benefits of owning a federal trademark registration are substantial.

1. USPTO Feedback

The USPTO will give you feedback about your application within a few months of filing about conflicts with competitors, registrability issues, or other problems that may require choosing a different trademark. One of the most common reasons for the USPTO to reject an application is due to a likelihood of confusion between the applied-for trademark and a preexisting trademark. This is why you need to do a trademark search before filing your application. If you don't run a trademark search and your application gets rejected, then you can at least take some consolation from the fact that you have been stopped from wasting time and resources on a trademark that cannot be protected.

2. Avoid Disputes Before They Happen

Information on new trademark filings is made available to the public on the USPTO database just a few days after filing. Competitors who do a trademark search the USPTO database before filing will discover your trademark application and will be motivated to choose a different trademark. Competitors will be even more motivated to select a different trademark after your application matures into a registration.

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Topics: Trademark Registration

The Six Most Common Trademark Refusals

Posted by Bill Ferrell on Apr 21, 2015 5:00:00 AM

Just because you apply for a federal trademark registration does not mean that you will get one. In fact, most applications are initially rejected. These rejections can be clerical, procedural, or the Trademark Office may refuse to register your mark due to a substantive issue. According to the USPTO, here are the most common rejections:

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Topics: Trademark Registration

About This Blog

From their office in a meat packing plant turned creative community, the lawyers at Trust Tree craft articles on the importance of trademarks and the power of branding. When you visit our blog, you can expect lots of content related to those topics. Unfortunately, you can also expect lots of memes, lame jokes, bad puns, and shoutouts to Nashville. The goal of our blog is to help you learn a few things about trademarks in the least painful way possible.

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