In the same way that every person should consider estate planning, every business should be conscious of their trademark status. A trademark, generally, is your brand. More specifically, a trademark is a word, symbol, or phrase used to identify your businesses’ goods or services and distinguish them from the goods and services of another business. For example, the Apple logo distinguishes Apple products from other producers of computers and consumer electronics.

In the United States, trademark law was developed to protect brands. Under both Federal law and Indiana law, the fundamental method of establishing rights in a trademark is the actual use of that trademark in commerce. Thus, registration of a trademark is not required to established legal rights in a trademark. However, in a society that’s growing evermore interconnected, registered trademarks are more important than ever.

Registration establishes a presumption that the registrant owns the trademark. This presumption can be very important in an infringement action. Registering a mark also provides notice of the owner’s trademark claim to others. Additionally, registration can dissuade others from using a confusingly similar mark.

For example, the craft beer industry has seen a sharp increase in trademark-related issues. And as breweries continue to expand their regional presence, the need for adequate trademark protection becomes imperative. To that end, registration should include not only a brewery’s primary name/logo, but also registration of each beer the brewery sells commercially. Failure to do so may mean changing names and losing brand identity when trying to expand into new markets. Perhaps more importantly, it could mean a conflict when another brewery tries to expand into your region. Two more recent examples are the Lagunitas and Sierra Nevada case, and the Bells and Innovation Brewing matter.

Registering your marks requires a detailed investigation, a thorough application process, and consistent monitoring. An attorney experienced in trademark registration can help with this process. If you are an existing business, or planning to start one, put a little more into your budget to ensure proper trademark protection. Contact the attorneys at McAnlis Law to explore your trademark options and protect your brand.

 

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