Your business’s trademarks are your intellectual property; there are a couple of rules and regulations designed to prevent others from infringing on them. However, it’s crucial to understand the differences between a registered and an unregistered trademark.
While the former authorizes you to file lawsuits with confidence, the latter makes it somewhat difficult to protect your trademark since you have no definitive proof that you own them. That explains one of the most crucial benefits of trademark registration for businesses.
However, that isn’t the only reason why you need to complete trademark registration for your intellectual properties. In this article, I’ll show you some important benefits of a trademark and the rights of a trademark holder over their IP. Before doing that, let’s take a look at the meaning of a trademark.
What is Trademark Protection?
To understand what trademark protection means, it’s crucial to know the meaning of a trademark.
A trademark is a representation of a word, logo, symbol, or a combination of these that makes a product or service unique. It is regarded as a form of intellectual property that should be unique to the original owner. In most jurisdictions, trademarks are protected under intellectual property rights.
With that out of the way, trademark protection refers to the act of protecting a trademark from infringement. Typically, the owner of a specified trademark receives trademark protection, which assures them of the ability to use their intellectual property uniquely.
To take full advantage of your trademark protection rights, it’s crucial to understand what to do in the event of an infringement. Seeking redress in court is the easiest way to go about protecting your trademark, but that becomes significantly easier when you have a registered trademark.
In the following section, you’ll learn what a registered trademark is, and I’ll show you the difference between that and an unregistered trademark.
Registered vs. Unregistered Trademark
Like with copyrights, you don’t need registration to own a trademark; you become the owner once you begin to use it for your business. However, there are numerous benefits to a registered trademark, especially in comparison to an unregistered one.
For one, you can only start using the ® symbol in front of your trademarked name only after registration. Without registration, you can opt for TM, which typically denotes a claim to an unregistered trademark. Having the mark of registration makes you look more authentic.
Also, an unregistered trademark can be pretty difficult to defend in a competent law court since it becomes difficult to establish when it became a thing. Someone could register the same trademark name after you start using yours and claim original ownership just because you haven’t registered.
There’s no reason to skip the process of registering your trademark, especially when you consider how easy it is nowadays. In most countries, it’s possible to start registering a trademark online, which is a massive improvement from when you needed to start filing paperwork and visiting offices.
Important Benefits of Trademark
Registering a trademark could be a hassle; going through all that for something without obvious benefits wouldn’t be the best use of your time and money. There have to be some benefits of trademark registration to make the entire process worthwhile, and thankfully, there are.
Here are some of the most important benefits of trademark licensing that should make you consider trademarking your business.
1. Offers Legal Advantage
Having a registered trademark makes it easy to win legal disputes regarding the rights to a name, logo, symbol, or anything else that could identify your business. As explained earlier, whoever is the first to register a trademark owns the legal right to use it as they wish.
If you hope to win on the legal front, you may want to consider registering your trademark officially.
2. Shows a Company’s Dedication to Business
It’s possible to run a small business without a trademark registration, but no serious business ever goes that route. Registering your logo, brand name, product name, and other intellectual properties as your trademark should be one of your first lines of action when starting up a business.
Going the extra mile to complete trademark registration informs investors that you have utmost faith in the success of your company. If that success arrives eventually, your registration will prevent competitors from imitating your best products or even your entire brand.
3. Increases Brand Recognition
Most giant companies identify their intellectual properties using trademarks. By trademarking the name of the organization and its products, you make it different from what most other competitors are offering. In addition to that, competitors will generally stay away from copying anything from you.
Also, trademark registration makes it practically impossible to confuse your brands with others. Trademark protection ensures nobody in your industry can use anything similar to your name to market their business, which is a plus for your company in the long run.
Read more: Keys to successful brand reputations
4. Prevents Others from Using Similar Names
In addition to offering protection on the specific intellectual property you registered, a trademark registration will also help prevent others from using similar words, graphics, or phrases to prevent confusion, especially if they operate in the same industry as you do.
This coverage isn’t limited to the name of a company alone, but it also covers the products it offers, its logo, and everything else for which it could get a trademark registration. If you intend to prevent any confusion as a result of name similarities, applying for trademark registration is your best bet. In any case, this is one of the most significant benefits of registering your trademark.
5. Gives You Access to the ® Symbol
While this benefit is probably the most inconsequential on this list, it’s something that many businesses hold in high esteem, and you should too. When you have the symbol ® after your brand or product name, you’re essentially telling competitors to keep off or face the potential legal consequences.
The badge has a couple of upsides. For one, it usually does keep away trademark infringers, as they can tell from the get-go that they’re getting into a losing fight. Also, it looks aesthetically pleasing; who would say no to a badge that we only typically see with bigger brands?
Disadvantages of Trademark
It’s not all rosy once you register your business’s trademark. Certain disadvantages may want to convince you into rethinking your idea of protecting your trademark at all costs. Here are some of the demerits that every business owner should know.
1. The company could be genericized
When a company becomes excessively popular, it stands a chance of being genericized. This term refers to a scenario where a company becomes so popular that its trademark name is used as a synonym with the product or service it offers. Think of Google or Jeep; I bet you never imagined Q-tips was a registered trademark.
While becoming insanely popular is what every company hopes for, becoming genericized strips your business of any trademark protections it has. At the moment, Q-tips can’t reasonably prevent competitors from using their brand name in adverts.
2. Trademark protection breeds litigation complexities
On the off chance that you’re not genericized yet, trying to protect your trademark could be a lot of legal trouble. If the infringer refuses to act on cease and desist letters, your only other hope is a lawsuit, which isn’t only expensive, but also time-consuming.
Unless you want to spend a significant amount of money and time going after companies that don’t matter, you may have to look the other way for some trademark infringements.
3. The scope of protection could be small
As explained earlier, you need to specify a class when registering a trademark. The class serves as the category, which denotes the scope of protection. While it makes some sense, you cannot alter trademark classes after registration, limiting your protection scope.
If you decide to expand after registration, for instance, you may have to register another trademark, although, you still retain the rights to the one you already have.
Why Businesses Need to Trademark
Earlier in this article, I’ve listed some of the benefits a business stands to gain by trademarking its intellectual properties. On the question of why businesses need to trademark, the answer isn’t farfetched; just take a look at what you stand to gain, and there you have your answer.
However, your potential gains only explain half the rationale behind trademarking. The other half is simply to prevent other companies to snatch your intellectual properties from right under your nose. If someone else went ahead to register your name before you do, there’s a significant chance that they’re flooring you in any lawsuit.
What are the Rights of a Trademark Holder?
Registering a trademark gives you some exclusive rights that you’d lack otherwise. While these rights form the basis for most of the benefits of trademark licensing, they’re different from the benefits themselves. Without further ado, here are some of the rights of a trademark holder.
1. Right to Exclusive Use
The most important right of a trademark owner is an exclusive right to the registered name under the category in which it was registered. If there happens to be a registered and unregistered trademark holder in the same industry, the exclusive right of the former will supersede that of the latter.
2. Right to Assign or Sell
A registered trademark owner can assign the name in question to whoever they see fit. This right makes it possible for franchisees to use the trademarks of the franchisor, which is crucial for specific businesses and business models.
3. Right to Remedy for Infringement
A trademark owner can seek legal remedy to prevent or correct any infringement on their trademark name. Since the name is reserved for the owner alone, it’s possible to force someone to stop using a trademarked name, especially if they’re in the same industry as the original owner.
With all the listed benefits and rights of a trademark holder, registering the same for your company no longer seems optional. Before launching full-scale operations in any small or medium business, it’s crucial to ensure you’ve registered the relevant trademarks for the purposes highlighted above.