Trademarks & Brand Protection
One of the essential ingredients of success in business is establishing your brand, goods, and services as recognizable and distinct from the competition. The experienced attorneys at Hamilton Law in Kalamazoo, Michigan help Southwest Michigan business owners and entrepreneurs with trademark protection. Whether you need assistance registering your mark or taking action against infringement, we offer the knowledgeable advice and advocacy required to protect your business identity and reputation.
A trademark grants legal protection for the use of a word, phrase, symbol, or design that distinguishes a brand. A service mark provides the same protections. A trademark is used to identify the source of goods, whereas a service mark identifies a source of services. Slogans, logos, and product and service names are among the types of intellectual property that can receive trademark protection. In the interest of preventing consumer confusion and safeguarding your brand, a trademark can prevent another business from using marks that are the same or similar to yours.
Once you have an idea about the intellectual property you would like to trademark, one of our lawyers can work with you to determine whether the mark you selected can be used for your brand and to take the necessary action to register it.
Though common law rights to a trademark can be asserted by placing “TM” next to words or images used in commerce, registering your trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is the surest way to secure protection. When your mark is officially registered, you will be able to use the “R” symbol.
A trademark application involves multiple steps. Our attorneys assist with:
- Selecting a mark — You may already have a name or logo in mind for your brand or products. Either way, it is important to know that not all marks can be registered. If your selected mark is likely to be confused with a registered mark, if it is generic or if it merely describes the product without distinguishing it, the USPTO will not register it.
- Conducting research — Once you select your mark, it is crucial to research whether anyone else is already using a similar mark for a related product or service. In addition to the official USPTO database, a search should include state databases, business name databases and other online sources.
- USPTO application — You must provide detailed information about your selected mark and its use or intended use in commerce. The application is filed online and must be submitted with all necessary fees.
- USPTO review — When the USPTO determines that your application demonstrates at least the minimum filing requirements, it is subjected to review by a USPTO attorney. The review will include a thorough search for conflicting marks and may take several months. Based on the results, the USPTO will either register your mark or send a letter explaining why it cannot be registered. You then have the opportunity to provide evidence in response.
- Maintain the mark — A mark remains protected only if it remains in use. Every few years, you will be required to prove to the USPTO that the mark is active.
The registration process may take anywhere from three months to over a year, depending in part on the thoroughness of your research and preparation of the application. Our office is available to clients from start to finish and we work to address thoroughly any issues raised by the USPTO.
When another company's similar name, style, lettering, picture or other branding violates or causes confusion with your trademark, you may have a valid infringement claim. Our business litigation lawyers will attempt to stop the unauthorized use by obtaining an injunction against the infringer. When it is in your best interest, we can also pursue damages for brand dilution and lost profits.
The attorneys at Hamilton Law in Kalamazoo, Michigan help Southwest Michigan entrepreneurs and business owners with trademark applications and infringement actions. Our office is available for in-person appointments. We also offer virtual telephone consultations and appointments. To schedule a free consultation with our office, call 269-488-8394 or contact us online.