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    TRADEMARKS

    A trademark or service mark is a word, name, symbol, design, or any combination, used or intended to be used to identify and distinguish the goods/services of one seller from those of others, and to indicate the source of the goods/services.

     

    Common law trademark or service mark protection does not require registration with a state or federal agency, but rather attaches when use of the trademark or service mark begins.  Common law trademark or service mark rights are typically limited to the geographic area where the trademark or service mark is used.

     

    State trademark or service mark protection is provided via state statutes that provide for protection of a trademark or service mark following registration with a state agency.  Such protection is typically limited to the state in which the trademark or service mark has been registered. 

     

    Federal Trademark or service mark protection is provided via a federal statute that grant protection of a trademark or service mark following registration with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.  A federally registered trademark or service mark provides nation-wide protection for the trademark or service mark against third parties who subsequently use the same or a confusingly similar trademark or service mark for related goods or services.  Additional benefits of U.S. trademark or service mark registration include:

     

    • Public notice of the claim of ownership of the mark;

    • A legal presumption of ownership of the mark and the exclusive right to use the mark nationwide on or in connection with the goods/services listed in the registration;

    • Ability to bring an action concerning the mark in federal court and to obtain statutory damages where infringement is proven in a court of law;

    • Use of the U.S. registration as a basis to obtain registration in foreign countries;

    • Ability to record the U.S. registration with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Service to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods;

    • Right to use the federal registration symbol ®; and   

    • Listing of the trademark or service mark in the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s online databases.