July's featured article
Your Trademark is Your Invention's Brand Protection
In this issue of Inventors Eye, we are focusing on the importance of trademarks and how federal trademark registration adds value to the products you have invented. Patents, of course, provide protection for the things that you have invented. Trademarks, on the other hand, provide protection for the brand name of the products produced as the result of your invention. More specifically, a trademark is the name, symbol or logo that you have created to let consumers know that the product sold under your trademark comes from you or your company. If your product is a successful one, customers who recognize it by its trademark will want to buy it long after the patent protection has expired. Trademark rights, unlike patents, come into being as soon as you start selling your product under your trademark. Federal registration of your trademark, however, gives you certain benefits that you would not otherwise have without a registration. A few of these benefits are, a presumption of ownership and nationwide exclusivity in the mark, the ability to file the registration with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service to block infringing imports, and the ability to obtain registrations in foreign countries based on your US registration. Trademarks often become the most valuable intellectual property right that a company holds.
The USPTO has numerous tools to help you get your trademark registered. Our Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) is available on our website, www.uspto.gov, to help you search our records for other prior registered or pending marks free of charge. We also have our Trademark Electronic Application System (TEAS) which enables you to file an electronic trademark application through the website. Finally, I want to encourage you to contact our Trademark Assistance Center (TAC) with your questions. Although our staff in the TAC can't give you specific legal advice, they do provide general information about the trademark registration process, and respond to inquiries about the status of trademark applications and registrations.
On October 15 and 16, we will hold our annual National Trademark Expo in Alexandria, Virginia. You can find out more information about the Expo, which features educational exhibits and information about the importance of trademarks in our economy on our website www.uspto.gov.