It may surprise you to learn that your trademark receives some legal protection, even if its not officially registered with the USPTO. Such protection for the unregistered trademark is based on common law of protection and Federal Lanham Act.
What you receive without Registration?
While the extent of protection id typically limited to the region where the trademark is used, an unregistered trademark is still protected against infringement and dilution under common law. As such you can demand the parties using your trademark without a license to cease to do so and even pursue legal step. That said without registering your trademark your options are more limited. You will also have to prove that it is a valid trademark and your options for limiting the trademark infringement aren’t as extensive. Another limitation is that you will usually have to rely on local and states court, though it is possible to litigate in federal courts if the infringer resides in different state .
Why you should consider registering?
If you consider registering your trademark with the USPTO, your array of option for dealing with the infringement will increase. Federal registration also:
- Makes it easier to bring the matter to federal courts
- Bestow trademark right across the United States presuming it is a valid mark, preventing infringers from claiming unawareness of the trademark.
- Enhances remedies for infringement including treble damages and criminal penalties in case of counterfeiting.
Perhaps the most attractive benefit of registering a trademark is that it can be eligible for incontestability. After 5 years of unopposed registration the trademark can become incontestable. For example, it cannot be attacked on the grounds of being merely descriptive and therefore, ineligible for registration. As such, moving to register trademark designs and other elements is generally a good business decision.