From a slogan to a company’s name or logo, business owners are advised to take steps to protect the integrity and reputation of their business by ensuring that they take action to register a trademark. By doing so, a business owner retains sole ownership over the use of trademarked material and may choose to take legal action against parties that attempt to use trademarked material.
In order to retain the sole rights of ownership and use over trademarked materials, an individual or business must follow certain procedures. For example, a trademarked material must be put into use. In the context of a trademark, use doesn’t necessarily equate to the act of selling the material, rather use can be established by taking actions such as establishing a website or developing marketing materials in which trademarked material is used.
In addition to establishing use of trademarked material, in order to protect such material, it’s also wise to register a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In cases where an individual or business wants to trademark material, but does not plan to actually use the material(s) until a later date, an “intent to use” can be filed with the USPTO which essentially “reserves the mark for future use” within a six-month to three-year timeframe.
If material protected under an ITU is subsequently used by another party within the three-year filing timeframe, the individual or business who filed an ITU can lay claim to and file a trademark to protect the material from infringement. In the case that trademarked material is being used by another party, an attorney can assist.
The first course of action in cases involving trademark infringement includes sending what’s known as a “cease and desist” letter to the offending party which demands that they cease using the material. In cases where the offending party continues to use the trademarked material, a trademark infringement lawsuit can be filed.
Businesses and individuals have the right to protect and preserve their use of intellectual property including trademarks. An attorney who is well-versed in trademark issues can assist in every stage of the trademark process.
Source: FindLaw.com, “Protect Your Trademark from Infringement,” Feb. 24, 2016