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Should you register a trademark?

You started a new business and came up with a great logo that you feel fits the style of your company. You need to protect it, because the last thing you want to see is another company using your trademark.

As a business owner, you have a few options. You can do nothing and still be protected, but it's also a good idea to consider registering your trademark.

Do I have to register my trademark?

You don't have to register your trademark in the United States to gain legal protections for that mark. Using the mark without registering it still gives you common law rights, and you may be able to protect your mark by showing that you have already used it in commerce.

Should you have your mark registered or save the hassle and avoid it?

While you don't have to register your trademark, it's probably a good idea to do so. Registering it with the federal government on the Principal Register has a number of advantages. For example, there is public notice that you claimed ownership of the mark, and your mark is listed on the United States Patent and Trademark Office's online database. Foreign goods won't be able to infringe on your rights, because you can record your registration with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

When you register your mark, you obtain the right to use the federal registration symbol and can use your U.S. registration as a way to obtain foreign registrations as well.

Probably the most important benefit of registering is that there will be a legal presumption of ownership of the mark, so you'll have the exclusive right to use the mark anywhere in the nation. If you're ready to pursue registration, your attorney can help you make sure you're the only person who can use your mark.

Source: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, "Basic Facts About Trademarks," accessed Sept. 26, 2017

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