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What should you do once you've created a trademark?
As a business, your trademark is your biggest asset--it tells consumers that something in the marketplace is yours and that it lives up to the quality you strive for. It's thus important to protect your business' trademark.
To start, a trademark is a name, word, device, symbol, or any combination therein, that is used to distinguish a company and its goods and services from another company's goods and services. Most commonly, a trademark is a brand name or logo.
You don't have to go through the registration process--a trademark is considered yours in the geographical area of your business once you use it in commerce. However, for those who want the ultimate protection for their business' trademark, trademark registration is essential. By registering with the United States Trademark and Patent Office, you are providing definitive notice that the mark is yours, and creating a legal presumption of ownership. Additionally trademark registration gives you exclusive right to your trademark nationally.
What should you do when someone infringes upon your mark? Regardless of whether you have registered your business' trademark, the first step is to send a cease and desist letter to the infringer. If that doesn't provide an adequate outcome, it's time to call a trademark attorney.
Once you begin to use your trademark, you have some maintenance to do. In order to keep your mark active, you must continue to use it and attempt to take action whenever infringement comes to your attention. And if you've registered it, don't forget to renew it every 10 years--otherwise you give up all the protection that trademark registration provides.