Just because you have gotten a federal trademark registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office does not mean you are free and clear of all problems. Now you must monitor and protect that trademark from infringement and dilution. Unfortunately, failing to protect your rights could cause you to lose them.
If a number of other people use marks that are similar to your trademark, it will weaken your rights. When a trademark is weakened, it is harder to protect. For example:
- Suppose you register a trademark, but then do not realize (or just do not care) that people all over the country are using names similar to your trademarked name.
- But then one day a business down the street starts using a similar name. You want to stop the business down the street from using a name similar to yours because you have many of the same potential customers.
- However, since you failed to stop everyone else across the country up until now from using similar names, you may not be able to stop the business down the street.
The USPTO leaves it entirely up to trademark owners to protect their rights. However, protecting your rights does not mean suing anyone and everyone who comes near your trademark. Instead, there are a number of ways to both prevent problems, and amicably address existing conflicts.
To prevent and address issues, trademark owners can:
- Put the public on notice of their trademark by using ® on their labels.
- Check the USPTO Gazette for publications of new trademarks. Owners who are then concerned that a potential new trademark would be too similar to theirs can oppose the mark before it is registered. This action could cost much less than a lawsuit.
- Ask USPTO to cancel other trademarks that should not have been granted in the first place. Again, this action could cost much less than a lawsuit.
- Communicate with other businesses using similar names logos to work out an agreement.
If you would like advice or assistance in monitoring your trademarks, contact us today by email or by calling 440-333-3800.