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Getting to know the basics of trademarks

There are a lot of things you might have questions about when you first startup a business. Are you going to provide goods or a service? How many employees will you have? How quickly do you want to expand? Do you have the right legal representation at your side to make sure you are abiding by all state and federal laws?

As you can see, there is a lot to consider. That's why we wanted to focus this week's blog post on one important aspect of any business and that is trademarks. Trademarks not only help consumers identify you from your competitors but give you recognition over time. But as our readers will soon see, there is much more to trademarks than just this.

Because a trademark can distinguish you from your competitors, you want to make sure that no one else is using the mark you chose. This can be done doing a trademark search on your own or using the services of a company that specializes in trademark searches. Running a search ahead of time is a good way of avoiding potential legal pitfalls later on.  We recommend searching at the USPTO website for registered trademarks and pending applications as well as doing thorough Internet searchs using Google, Bing or other search engines.  Not all trademarks are registered.

After running a search, the next step should be registration of your trademark. Even though you are not required to register your trademark with the federal government, doing so this way does have its perks. For starters, federally registered trademarks generally appear on searches and clearly identify that you are the owner of the mark. Federal registration also provides trademark holders with protections in the event of litigation.

It's important to remember that just because you file for federal registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office does not mean that you will automatically be awarded registration. If your application is denied, you may be left with several questions. By directing your questions towards a skilled attorney, you can ensure that you are abiding by the law while making sure that you are also protecting your own rights.

Source: The United States Patent and Trademark Office, "Trademark Basics," Accessed Sept. 4, 2014

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