The following is an edited transcript of my video Trademark Registration: The Whole is Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts
I don’t know where the phrase “the sum is greater than the parts” came from, but I do know that it has many applications. And one very important application for our purposes is that when it comes to trademark registration and the protections created by it–the benefits created by it–the sum really is greater than the parts. You see, there are maybe a dozen benefits of being a registered trademark and each one of them is valuable by itself. But when you put it all together and you get to use that R with a circle, as you can see in the accompanying graphic here, the sum really is bigger than each of the elements.
Now, what are some of these elements that I’m talking about? Well, you get to use the R with a circle. That’s important because it shows customers that you’re registered and protected and that you care about your brand. It makes it easier to do social media take downs on Instagram or for domain name take downs, or for Amazon brand registry. All types of online places today where so much business is conducted.
It makes your protection nationwide. Many businesses are already operating nationwide, but for those that aren’t, say you’re a local restaurant or a real estate agent or some other business that is local, without a registration, your protection may be local. Once you’re registered, you have trademark protection nationwide. A registered trademark can be recorded with U.S. Customs. That’s valuable if you make products and you want to have the potential to block imports that might be counterfeiting.
A registered trademark gives the owner the ability to sue for more damages, to sue for triple damages actually, in federal court. That’s a big deal. That’s a big deal not only because it could lead to collecting more damages, but more importantly, it’s a big deal because it leads to a bigger threat when there is an infringement or potential infringement situation to be resolved. And there are other advantages that the trademark registration provides in a litigation dispute, like being able to go to federal court, a presumption of validity, and more. Those are another key benefit of the trademark registration.
Finally, what I think is one of the most under-recognized benefits of trademark registration is that it appears in the USPTO’s database all day, every day, all the time. That is a tremendous value because when others are searching the database, that means they now have a potential to find this trademark, this registration, and that could lead to examiners blocking other applications or potential businesses who are coming up with new brands or thinking about filing new trademarks. It could help them see this registered trademark and potentially change their plans.
Every day people are canceling plans to use a brand name that they wanted to use because they found a registration in the USPTO database. Nobody ever finds out. There’s no notice provided that somebody decided to move on to a different name. So we don’t know exactly how many times each brand benefits from this, but it happens all the time and it’s a tremendous benefit being in that USPTO database.
To come back full circle, no pun intended, is that each of these benefits is significant when you register a trademark. But when you put them all together, the registered trademark is so powerful. The sum really is greater than each of those parts, because you now have a registration, the R with a circle, a tool to use to protect, grow and build your brand.
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