A registered trademark serves as an insurance policy for brands and businesses online and off. Do you need one for the names of your products or services? The process for obtaining a registered trademark can be confusing and complex. Understanding the benefits of having a registered trademark can help decide if one is right for your business.
In the online digital world, goods and services are marketed and accessed across more marketing channels than ever before. While traditional media such as radio, television and print advertising are still important, they are only a few of the channels used to reach consumers.
“ A common form of online brand theft is infringing domain names. ”
Nearly every business now markets or sells their products and services by means of a website. Millions also use social media to increase the reach to customers. With these increased opportunities come new threats, as well as more reasons to make sure the names of products and services are properly protected with a registered trademark.
A registered trademark provides a shield to prevent someone else from coming after you when you don’t register. A registered trademark is also a sword that can be used to quickly stop poachers, especially the online varieties that love to make money off of other people’s hard work and Intellectual Property.
Here are six really good reasons to protect online brand names with a registered trademark.
1. A Registered Trademark Provides Constructive Notice
A registered trademark is like recording the deed to a house, allowing the owner to kick squatters out quickly and with minimal expense, particularly in the online space where many of the problems occur. A registered trademark provides constructive notice to the world of the trademark owner’s rights.
Constructive notice is a concept most people understand when the deed to their house is recorded; the same applies to trademarks. Constructive notice is a legal substitute for actual notice. Actual notice means, “I personally told you.” No one can personally tell everyone in the world of their claim to ownership. As a result, the law allows the owner to record a claim of ownership in a public agency where third parties are responsible for searching the public records to learn of your rights. Constructive notice means ignorance is no defense to choosing the same or a confusingly similar name.
“ A registered trademark provides nationwide protection, regardless of the actual geographic use of the mark ”
2. Domain names that infringe your trademark rights
Does your company also market its services online, or sell products over the Internet? If so, then you probably need a registered trademark.
These days, the most common form of business theft of trademarks is infringing domains. Trademark infringement in a domain occurs when a third party uses your trademark or brand name in a URL to offer competing goods or services to yours. This includes sneaky practices such as typosquatting (deliberate misspellings of domains) and diverting traffic to third party sites.
There are legal procedures to stop registration of domains containing your trademarks. With a registered trademark these procedures become simple and cost effective. Without a registration, stopping them can be costly and more complex.
3. Competitors that bid on trademarks with Google
In many industries today, business owners purchase key words for paid search engine results. An ongoing problem is a competitor purchases your trademarks from Google, and uses them to advertise his or her services, not yours. This practice raises the cost to brand owners to advertise their own products since you can be forced to bid against a competitor to use your own trademark in a key word ad campaign. A registration is a tool to force them to stop.
4. Social Media Squatters and ISP Take Down
Theft of trademarks on Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms is also an everyday occurrence. While social media platforms have a complaint procedure, the chances of successfully stopping an infringing use are not good unless you have a trademark registration. Complaint forms are sent to an anonymous department with no personal contact. Without a registered trademark, you will likely never receive a response and be powerless to recover the poached page or handle.
5. Counterfeit Goods
Millions of products are sold on sites like eBay and Amazon. The world of counterfeit goods, both online and off, is growing daily. A registered trademark assists with both of these threats.
Your registered trademark can also be listed with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which will act to stop fake goods being imported into the United States.
Registrations also assist with efforts to have counterfeit goods removed from Alibaba, eBay and Amazon.
6. Orderly Expansion of the Business into new locations
A US registered trademark provides nationwide protection, regardless of the actual geographic use of the mark. A registered trademark allows you time to expand into new states and territories without less risk of being blocked by a non-registered user in one location. U.S registrations can also be used as the basis for applying for a registration in foreign countries. To learn more about foreign registration, read: How to Secure a Foreign Trademark.