Brian Russ Law, Inc. provides trademark registration services for clients in all 50 states, including Wisconsin.
Why It Is Important To Understand Trademarks
Trademarks are words, phrases, logos and other symbols that distinguish one company’s goods from those of another. If a business does not have a trademark that is used in commerce, it cannot have exclusive rights to the mark and will be unable to stop competitors from using it. For example, if someone creates the name ‘Happy Days’ for their nursery school and starts using it for their businesses, the owner of the Happy Days toy store cannot stop them from doing so.
To prevent others from using their trademark and to extend it to all products and services, they would need to register the mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Registrations generally protect a mark for the entire United States, an internationally recognized class of goods, or both.
Federal U.S. Trademarks to Achieve Business Success
Trademarks identify goods and services that stem from a specific company. They are used in the same way as one might use a logo. Trademarking is important because it prevents others from using your trademark without your consent by giving you greater grounds to file a lawsuit against them.
Trademark registrations are important for two reasons. First, it’s easier to win if you have federal trademarks instead of only state trademarks (or common law trademarks). Second, you can sue for damages in a United States federal court rather than state court. This provides you with additional damages and remedies.
As long as you register a trademark on the USPTO Principal Register, others are hedging their bets on avoiding potential infringement. Users are expected to do a search at the USPTO before using that trademark without your permissions. It can still be grounds for lawsuit despite unintentional infringement not being an issue.
Avoid DIY and Protect Your Trademark
Make sure your trademark is protected with an attorney to avoid other companies trying to capitalize on their success. The process of trademark registration can be complicated and require a lot of detail and assistance, especially for first-time applicants. A trademark attorney can complete the application for you, conduct extensive research into any similar trademarks, and guide you through the process from start to finish.
We recommend that our clients do not attempt to secure trademarks for themselves. There are many automated online services that walk people through the trademark application process without the legal counsel of a law firm. With these services, we benefit from their terrible service and business because they drive a lot of business our way to clean up the mess.
We believe in not making a mess and helping you do it right the first time. We offer advice in all manners of trademark applications, but sometimes it’s simply not worth fighting to get what you already have.
Learn the difference between Trademark and Copyright
Trademarking is used to protect a brand’s identity and advertising purposes. A person will know who to go to if they want that specific product. It can be used for the company or their product’s name.
A copyright is a protection for an author or artist which means no one can use their work without permission but the creator still owns it. Copyright exist whether registered or not, but additional protections come with the registration and it’s important to know the difference between trademarks and copyrights so your company’s intellectual property rights are adequately protected.
Examples of Trademark Needs in Madison, Wisconsin
A lot of people ask us, “Why do I need a trademark for my business?” And the simple answer to that is your businesses name, logo, and branding are inherently valuable. You want to ensure that you’ve protected your business as your brand’s value grows and continues to appreciate over time. For example, if you’re in Middletown, or driving on Interstate 90, you’ve probably seen tons of billboards for corporations and mom-and-pop shops alike. And they’ve all got a certain feel to them, their branding. And that branding is valuable. You want to make sure that if you start a shop in Madison, that somebody two states over isn’t going to steal your idea and name and do the same business.
A great example I love to use is professional sports teams. Their need to have a protected brand name, logo, slogan, and such is invaluable because so much of their team’s value is wrapped up in their identity. There are lots of sports teams, but for fans, there’s always “my team”. Think about the teams near Madison and McFarland, like the Wisconsin Badgers and the Madison Capitols. You can probably picture their logo in your mind, and you know that nobody else is using their names and logos to promote a professional sports team.