Your trademark or service mark is a valuable asset of your business. Obtaining a federal registration for your trademark or service mark provides the strongest protection against potential infringers. When filing suit based on a federal registration, the mark owner has significant advantages, including damage amounts up to three times that of unregistered marks. Federal law also prevents the use of similar marks in domain names, and can bar the importation of infringing goods into the United States, among other protections.
But more importantly, a federal registration often stops that infringement before it starts. First, the Trademark Office’s review provides the best evidence of whether your chosen mark might expose you to liability based on other existing marks. It is critical to identify any potential issues before spending the money to develop and promote your name. Second, as soon as your application is submitted, your mark can be publicly searched by others in the federal database, deterring them from using a similar name. Even if another party were to apply for a confusingly similar mark, the Trademark Office would refuse the application based on your registration. In other words, with a federal registration, the government does a large part of your trademark policing for you, thereby reducing the likelihood (and costs) of having to enforce and potentially litigate your rights.
Any one of these benefits would justify the modest expense of a federal application. Taken together, a federal registration is the most critical element of any plan to protect your valuable trademarks and service marks.