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How To: Register a Trademark for Your Business

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on April 09, 2015 7:01 AM

Taylor Swift is trademarking her lyrics. A bunch of athletes are trademarking their names and catch phrases. Maybe you've wondered whether your business needs to register a trademark.

If your answer to that question is yes, you've come to the right place. Here's a quick guide on how to register a business trademark.

Use It or Lose It

In fact, you may not need to register your trademark at all. Under common law, trademark protections commence once the trademark is used in commerce.

Common law trademarks often carry symbols ("TM" for goods; "SM" for services) and protections extend to anywhere you use the mark in commerce. So if you only conduct business locally, your trademark rights may be confined to that region.

Make It Official

On the other hand, you can register your trademark by filing a federal trademark application with the U.S. Patent Trademark Office (USPTO). The application process is fairly straightforward, and you can even file your trademark application online.

Registering your trademark with the USPTO can extend your trademark protections nationwide, even if you don't do business all over the country. U.S. Customs can even use the registration to prevent the importation of potentially infringing products. You can also then register your trademark in other countries.

Registration means you can use the federal trademark symbol, the "R" in a circle, which can impart an image of quality to your product or business. And official registration puts other people and businesses on constructive notice that the mark is already in use and help you protect your trademark rights.

You should know how trademarks and copyrights differ, and if your business might need both. And don't make one of these trademark mistakes.

If you'd like legal assistance with trademark registration issues, you can consult with an experienced trademark attorney in your area.

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