Top Benefits of Trademark Registration… Is it Worth It?

There are a number of benefits of trademark registration, and in this blog post and corresponding video, we will review 5 of the important benefits that I hope will persuade you to take your trademarks seriously. 

As a business owner, protecting your intellectual property by obtaining the exclusive rights to your trademarks is a critical step in safeguarding your intellectual property and ensuring the long-term success of your business. While I have repeatedly discussed (in multiple videos) the potential negative consequences of failing to register your trademarks, it is just as important for you to understand the numerous benefits that come with securing a registered trademark through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (i.e. USPTO). 

In this blog post, we will explore five key benefits of trademark registration, including:

  • Publication of your trademark in the USPTO database
  • Enhanced enforcement mechanisms
  • Prohibition on the import of knock-off brands into the United States
  • Access to licensing and franchise deals
  • Increased brand valuation

Let's review these topics one at a time.

Publication of your mark in the USPTO (TEAS) database

One of the primary benefits of filing a federal trademark application is the immediate visibility it provides to the general public. Within a few days of filing your trademark application, your trademark and business name becomes publicly accessible through the US Patent and Trademark Office online database to anyone conducting a trademark search.

This early visibility can serve as a deterrent for other businesses that are considering similar names to use as their trademarks. By searching the TEAS database, as they can easily find your application when looking for the same or similar trademarks. This can serve as a powerful deterrent from competitors pursuing identical or confusingly similar trademarks.

In addition, because the USPTO operates on a “first to file” system, you will have priority over subsequently filed trademark applications with names that are similar to yours and are selling related goods or services. You will receive the legal presumption that your name was used first in commerce.

Not to mention that these are all benefits that will accrue to you the moment your initial trademark application is accepted for filing by the USPTO.

And once you become a registered trademark owner, you will be able to use the ® symbol in connection with your federal registration. This symbol is reserved for use only by companies with a registered trademark and can also serve as a deterrent to potential infringers. If you have an unregistered trademark, or your application is still pending, you are not permitted to use this symbol in connection with your brand and instead must use the ™ symbol if you have a trademark (selling goods) or SM if you are using a service mark (selling services).

Enhanced Enforcement Mechanisms

Seeking to enforce trademark rights without a registered trademark certificate in hand is an uphill battle, for sure. Common law rights are limited, typically to the geographic area in which you are selling your goods or services.

But once you receive your registration on the principal register, you have more legal options and enforcement mechanisms to choose from when it comes to protecting your intellectual property and pursuing infringement claims. 

After successfully registering your trademark (a process that typically takes 12 to 18 months), you receive a registration certificate. As the owner of a registered trademark, this certificate enables you to take legal action against infringing parties through the issuance of cease and desist letters or by filing lawsuits in federal court. With a registered trademark, you have a solid foundation to defend your brand's integrity and prevent unauthorized use. If you prevail in a lawsuit in federal court for trademark infringement, you are entitled to damages, including actual damages, statutory damages, attorneys' fees, and disgorgement of profits, among other monetary remedies.

Border Protection for Imported Physical Products

If your business sells physical products on platforms such as Amazon, Etsy or even via Shopify, then a trademark registration will offer you an added layer of protection from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). If you record your trademark certificate with CBP, then the Federal Government has the authority to “detain, seize, forfeit, and ultimately destroy merchandise seeking entry into the United States if it bears and infringing trademark… that has bee registered with the USPTO.”

This means that if your business is involved in the selling of physical products or importing goods, trademark registration offers additional layers of protection. By recording your registered trademark with US Customs and Border Protection, you gain the ability to halt the entry of potentially infringing products into the United States. 

This safeguard ensures that your brand remains secure from unauthorized use or counterfeit goods, preserving your business's reputation and customer trust.

Access to licensing deals and franchise opportunities

As should be abundantly clear by now, registration of a trademark is a strategic legal move that can significantly increase the value of your brand. 

First, a federally registered trademark allows you to license your brand to third parties, generating additional revenue streams while expanding brand recognition. 

Second, if you aspire to franchise your business, a registered trademark is crucial. Franchising becomes much more viable when you possess a registered trademark, as it strengthens the credibility and marketability of your franchise opportunity. I would be surprised to find any franchises that have not taken the steps necessary to register their trademarks at the Federal level.

Increased value when you decide to sell your business

In the event that you decide to sell your business or brand, having a registered trademark can be a complete and total game-changer. Prospective buyers highly value the ownership rights associated with registered trademarks. Many buyers are seeking to purchase your brand more than your business itself. As such, failure to have a registered trademark can seriously hinder the value of your business in the event that you decide to place it on the market for sale. 

I've worked with a number of entrepreneurs who are seeking to register their trademarks in the lead up to listing their business for sale. 

A comprehensive trademark portfolio enhances your business's market appeal, ensuring that potential buyers view your brand as a valuable asset. Conversely, the absence of registered trademarks in connection with your brand will cast doubt on the integrity of your brand, potentially reducing its value and jeopardizing the success of the sale.

If you enter into a purchase agreement without having secured your trademark registrations, at best it will delay the sale and potentially decrease the sale price. At worst, it could scare away the buyer altogether. Don't make this mistake, make sure you have your trademarks registered, or at a minimum in the process of being registered, BEFORE you list your business for sale.

International Registration of Trademarks

One of the benefits I did not discuss in the video is that you can use your Federal Trademark registration as the basis to establish your intellectual property rights through an international treaty called the Madrid Protocol. So long as you file your application in one of the WIPO member countries, you will receive priority treatment in that country. This can be a great way to expand the reach of your brand internationally.   

So are the Benefits of Trademark Registration Worth It?

Trademark registration is a vital step in securing your brand's identity and ensuring its long-term success. Beyond the legal protection it provides to trademark owners, a federal trademark registration offers a myriad of benefits, from early visibility and priority to enhanced enforcement mechanisms and increased brand value.

By investing in trademark registration, you safeguard your business from potential threats, establish a strong foundation for growth, and unlock opportunities for revenue generation. Prioritize trademark protection today and pave the way for a prosperous future for your brand.

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