Trademark protection in the U.S.A.

Trademark protection in the US dates back to the colonial days when American common law recognized some intellectual property rights. This tradition has its mark in history, because many American companies live from their marketing strategies. These companies know the importance of registering and protecting their brand in order to promote their brand.

For this reason, the registration of a trademark in the USA is quite quick and inexpensive compared to other countries, and even unregistered trademarks can enjoy some legal protection if they have already been used in trade. If so, you will need to be able to demonstrate that your use of the trademark is well established in your international business activity. This is not always easy to prove, and it is not cost-effective to take a stand against your competitor if you have skipped your trademark registration phase.

At the federal level, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPO) manages trademark registration in the United States. Due to the legal value of commercial use of trademarks, it is possible to enter the American market before applying for registration. Nevertheless, it is also possible and often advisable to submit what is known as the “intent-to-use” trademark application. You can submit an Intent-to-Use (ITU) application by submitting an affidavit, but note (!) That in the event of a legal dispute, you should stop your efforts to “commercialize” your trademark soon after the application date. Later on, you should be able to use a number of specific procedures to convert the (ITU application to normal (use-in-commerce) application.

Before filing any application, it is important to do a thorough research for possible trademarks that could be confused with yours. Attention! This research is the responsibility of the applicant. USPO offers a search system (Trademark Electronic Search System, TESS) with which this search can be carried out, whereby it should be noted that the search engine does not take into account trademarks that are not registered at the federal level, but are used in trade, which can even assert themselves against registered ones .

Descriptive trademarks can only be protected (so-called weak protection) if they have been considered distinctive for more than 5 years due to their business use. The Federal Office uses strict parameters to assess the class of products or services to which your brand relates. To avoid confusion or many other reasons for refusal of registration that the Office may determine, you should consider seeking legal advice.


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