Trademark Basics

Sarah Haas


Federal trademark registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office is a worthwhile investment for businessowners looking to protect a unique logo, brand name, or product name from use by other similar businesses. There are two basic requirements that a mark owner must meet before applying to register:

  1. Registration is available only for marks operating in interstate commerce (or will be within the next two years). If you’re providing services to individuals living outside of Wisconsin or shipping goods to neighboring states, you likely meet this threshold.
  2. Your trademark cannot be generic (such as “Cash Management Account”, “”, “”, “Bundt” or “Analog Devices”) or descriptive (such as “Coaster-Guards”, “Bed & Breakfast Registry”, “Registry of Medical Pathologists”).

If you’re using your mark in interstate commerce and your mark is not generic or descriptive, your mark may be eligible for federal trademark registration, which provides several key benefits.

  1. Gives your mark nationwide status, even if you’re currently only operating in 2 states, for example.
  2. Prevents others from registering a confusingly similar trademark for the same and similar goods or services
  3. Grants you important legal rights that make enforcing your rights easier

Trademark registration requires you to invest both time and money (filing fees alone will total at least $250). But, it can be costly not to register your mark, too. Federal registration grants you nationwide status as the mark’s owner and should prevent competitors from using your mark or marks that are confusingly similar to yours. Without federal registration, you could have to rebrand if a company successfully registers a similar mark. You might also incur legal fees to object to a competitor’s trademark registration application or respond to a cease and desist letter. Plus, a registered trademark is a valuable asset that can be assigned or licensed to or purchased by another company.

Want to learn more about whether your product name or logo is registerable? Is another company claiming you’re infringing their intellectual property rights? We can help. Set up a call to discuss.

Sarah K. Haas

Sarah Associate Attorney

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