Texas entrepreneurs often do not realize that their businesses hold thousands of dollars worth of valuable intellectual property until someone infringes upon their trademarks.
Once discovered, it is often too late to fully protect these marks since they have not been registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or with the State of Texas.
For most companies, the benefits of trademark registration cannot be overstated.
Registering your marks with state and federal governments can protect you from being confused with other businesses and from costly litigation.
In this article, the Massingill team will explain the benefits of trademark registration for your business.
What is Trademark Registration?
Trademark registration is the legal process of securing rights to a name, symbol, logo, word, or some combination of all of these.
Trademarks can even include sounds, scents, or other artistic flourishes.
A company uses its trademarks to identify and distinguish its goods and services from those of other companies.
A quick trademark search on the USPTO or Texas Secretary of State’s website can help a company identify whether its marks are unique or not.
Registering a trademark is an important step in forming a company’s brand identity. A properly registered trademark can help support a well-thought-out brand strategy.
If you are considering moving forward with a new or updated brand strategy, contact an experienced intellectual property lawyer today.
Benefits of Trademark Registration
Trademarks can be registered with both federal and state authorities. There are benefits to both types of registrations.
A qualified attorney can help you decide how you should proceed with your trademark registration.
Federal Trademark Registration
Registering your trademark with the USPTO creates trademark registration rights throughout the entire United States and its territories.
Registering with the USPTO also adds the trademark registration to the USPTO’s publicly accessible database of registered trademarks.
Once the trademark is registered, the holder can use the ® symbol so observers know that the trademark is a registered trademark.
Unfortunately, the USPTO is not an enforcement agency, so the trademark holder is responsible for pursuing action against infringers.
Other benefits of federal trademark registration include:
- Once a trademark is registered, there is a legal presumption that you own the trademark and have the right to use it;
- USPTO trademark registration can be used as a basis for filing for trademark protection in foreign countries;
- The trademark holder has a right to bring a lawsuit concerning the trademark in federal court; and
- USPTO registration grants you the right to record your registration with the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, which can help prevent the unlawful import of infringing goods into the U.S.
This is not an exhaustive list of benefits of federal trademark protection.
Speak with a member of the Massingill business law legal team to discuss how to register your trademarks with the USPTO.
We can help you protect your company’s valuable IP.
State Trademark Registration
While registering a trademark with the USPTO protects your marks across the U.S. and its territories, registering a trademark in your U.S. state protects your marks in that state only.
This means that if you register your trademark in Texas, someone could use that exact same mark in Oklahoma and you would not be protected.
If you wanted to expand your business into Oklahoma or Arkansas, you would have to decide whether to register your trademark in those states or apply for federal registration.
Not all states have trademark registration databases.
Without the ability to complete a trademark search, third parties might not be aware of your rights in a trademark.
Like the USPTO, secretaries of state and other state agencies are not enforcement agencies. You will have to enforce your rights yourself if you come across an infringer.
A knowledgeable Texas trademark lawyer can help you manage and enforce your intellectual property rights.
Contact a member of the Massingill today.
How to Trademark a Name in Texas
The State of Texas will allow you to register both trademarks and service marks.
Service marks are words, names, symbols, devices, or other marks distinguishing the services of one person or company from another.
In Texas, the word “mark” typically refers to both trademarks and service marks.
There are three basic requirements for registering a mark in Texas. They include:
- The mark must be “in use” in Texas before the date of the application;
- The mark must be distinctive from all other marks; and
- The mark cannot be so similar to any mark that is currently registered with the Texas Secretary of State or the USPTO that it is likely to cause confusion or deceive consumers.
You can register your marks in Texas by completing a series of forms and returning them to the Secretary of State’s office with the appropriate fees.
However, the information required can be confusing and complex. Working with an experienced trademark lawyer can help make the process go smoothly.
How a Business Law Attorney Can Help
As experienced business and trademark lawyers, we understand how to help businesses protect their valuable IP assets.
Whether you need your trademark filed with the State of Texas or the USPTO, we can help.
If you want to register a trademark in Texas or have questions about your application, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.