You’ve worked so hard to build your company and brand. Thus, you want to make sure that it is protected in all areas, specifically your intellectual properties. In this case, registering a trademark for your brand is one of the best decisions you’ll ever make.
If you successfully registered your trademark, congratulations! That said, a registered trademark is only the beginning. To fully maximize the benefits of your trademark, there are certain things you need to understand and do. This article shares important tips that every business owner needs to know after a successful trademark registration.
- You Can Start Using The ® Symbol After A Successful Registration
Before and during your trademark application, you were only allowed to use the ‘TM’ (trademark used to represent physical goods such as food items and clothes) or ‘SM’ (service mark used to represent offerings such as financial or legal services) symbols on your mark. These symbols mean that your trademark name is still pending registration or is in the process of registration.
However, once your trademark is successfully registered, you can now use the ® symbol alongside your mark. The ® symbol refers to a registered trademark and notifies the public of your mark rights. This can help deter people and other businesses from infringing your trademark.
So, once you receive your trademark, you can update your website, social media, logo, product packaging, labels, and promotional materials to include this symbol to enforce your trademark.
- You Still Need To Do Active Monitoring
While a successful trademark registration and the usage of the ® symbol can help deter potential infringers, it’s still very important to make sure that another party isn’t undermining your business by using your mark without permission. Thus, you need to learn how to actively monitor your industry and marketplace.
Contrary to what most people think, the responsibility of protecting your trademark is on you and not the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Trademark law states that owners need to actively monitor mark use to eliminate the threat of infringement.
If a third party maintains an unauthorized use of your trademark for an extended period and has strengthened enough to be recognizable on its own, it can result in a loss of trademark rights due to a lack of vigilance. And even if you try to file a legal action, the third party can use your neglect in protecting the mark as a defense, thereby weakening your trademark registration. Some businesses may even challenge your mark on grounds of non-use or non-enforcement.
By regularly monitoring your mark, you can ensure that your trademark rights are as strong as possible. The best practice for trademark monitoring and policing is to prevent issues before they occur. You can use Google and set up alerts for businesses or brands using your mark or similar ones. You can also take advantage of the USPTO’s online database to monitor any potential trademark application that may be too familiar with yours and then legally oppose those new marks before they evolve into a bigger business.
If you want to save time and effort, you can also use a professional monitoring service or even a trademark lawyer that can help monitor and take action on anyone encroaching on your trademark rights.
- You’ll Need To File A Trademark Statement Of Use
Your intellectual property rights are not solely from a successful trademark registration—they come from the continuous use of your mark as part of your business. While a trademark application allows you to reserve a mark, you can’t get a successful registration unless you’re actively using the mark. Also, to maintain the protection of your registered mark, you need to keep using the trademark and reporting to the USTPO.
In this case, you’ll need to file for a Statement of Use (SOU). This is the official form used by the USPTO and is proof that you’re using your trademark in commerce. It helps in reducing confusion due to several trademarks that get registered but never used.
SOU can only be filed once you officially use your trademark. You need to file it within six months of receiving the Notice of Allowance issued by the USPTO. That said, if you’re not using the trademark in commerce within that timeframe, you may submit an SOU extension request.
- Remember Your Renewal Dates
Your trademark will last indefinitely as long as you continue using your mark and filing the necessary renewal documents during specific periods. These documents help notify the USPTO that your trademark is still viable and active. If you don’t file the required renewal and maintenance documents, you’ll lose your trademark registration and rights.
In general, there are several renewable dates you need to remember. The first renewal will be from the fifth to the sixth year of your trademark registration. You’ll need to file a Declaration of Use and/or Excusable Non-Use document. The latter is a sworn statement stating that you’re still using your trademark and the former is an explanation of why you’re not using your mark.
The next renewal filing dates fall between the ninth and tenth year after successful trademark registration. Here, you’ll need to file another Declaration of Use as well as an Application for Renewal. From there, you’ll need to file another Declaration of Use and Application for Renewal every 10 years.
Take note that there’s a six-month grace period if you forget and miss your deadlines. However, if you haven’t renewed your trademark after that, it will expire. This means you’ll need to start the registration process all over again.
- You Can Expand Your Trademark Coverage As Necessary
In general, if there are any changes or upgrades in your mark, goods, and business itself, you’ll need to also expand the trademark and its coverage. For instance, if your business expanded into a new industry, you’ll need to file additional trademarks to cover the new class of services or goods. If you have a new branding or logo, you’ll need to update your mark specimen and show how it now identifies your business. Also, if you have new labeling or packaging, you need to update your specimen to show the new use of your mark.
A registered trademark is a huge accomplishment, especially when considering how frustrating and time-consuming the application process was. That said, as satisfying as it is, successful trademark registration is just a milestone in a continuous journey to protecting your trademark and brand.
Whether you’re still waiting for your trademark’s official certification or already received it, understanding and implementing the above pointers can help you become better equipped to protect your newly registered trademark and business.