A good question with a fairly straightforward answer. In Part 1 we discussed the value in establishing the property rights that a trademark registration provides, but there are other benefits to registration. A U.S. registration issued by the U.S. Patent Office provides exclusive rights in your trademark property throughout the United States and its territories.1 The grant of exclusive rights means that your registration also serves as a defensive measure against others who may want to benefit from a similar mark or potentially push your brand out of the marketplace altogether. Your registration is public notice of your exclusive rights, warding off challenges and trespassers. And having a registration in hand can also serve as a strong deterrent to “trademark bullies” who make a habit of sending cease and desist threats.
A U.S. trademark registration:
• Bars U.S. registration by others of similar marks for use with similar goods and services in your market and industry.
• Is proof against use by others of confusingly similar marks for use with related goods and services.
• Provides the legal presumption that your trademark property rights are valid and enforceable against trespassers (“infringers” in the parlance of intellectual property).
• Allows you to bring enforcement actions in federal court, often in your jurisdiction rather than the jurisdiction of the infringer.
• Can be registered with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to prevent knock-offs from entering the country.
In addition to being your brand, the face of your business, your U.S. trademark registration is your first defense against those who would seek to profit from the business reputation and brand recognition your hard work builds. The earlier you secure registered rights in your trademark, the less likely it will be that something will arise to prevent you from registration. The best time to register your trademark is before you invest time, money, and effort in a brand. And the more successful your business later becomes, the more critically valuable the protection of registration will be.