Can My Competitors Use My Business Name in Their Keyword Advertising?

An Intellectual Property FAQ with Mark A. Williams.

I would like to tell you that the answer to this question is no, they can never use your name but that is just not the truth. Some of the questions here come down to what have you done to protect your name? If you have obtained a federal trademark in your name, it makes it a lot easier for you to stop other people from using it. Where do you use your name? If you have a federal trademark, the law says you are using it in all 50 states. If you don’t have a federal trademark and you are only doing business in one state, you might have a competitor in an adjoining state that could legally use your name in their advertising.

It is really important to make sure that you have the right legal protections for your business name and all of your intellectual property when running your business.

© 2014 Parsonage Vandenack Williams LLC

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Is Federal Trademark Registration Valid Outside the United States?

An Intellectual Property FAQ with Mark A. Williams.

If you obtain a federal trademark within the United States with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, it will apply to anybody that wants to do business within the United States. So a foreign company that wants to come to your state or to the U.S. and do business, yes, it applies to them.

What it doesn’t do is it doesn’t stop people in another country from using your trademark. If you do business outside of the United States or if you do business on the internet with people in foreign countries, you really have to consider whether you need to obtain a trademark in those countries, or whether you have to seek what is called Madrid Protocol protection, which is something akin to a treaty between several different countries that will extend your U.S. trademark protection to those countries.

© 2014 Parsonage Vandenack Williams LLC

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Should I Spend the Money to Get a Trademark For My Business?

An Intellectual Property FAQ with Mark A. Williams.

Whether you should buy a trademark for your business really depends on where you do business at. There are federal trademarks and a federal trademark is registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office and that gives you rights in all 50 states. You can only get a federal trademark if you actually use your mark in more than one state. So, if you are only doing business in one state, one city, on locality, then you should look at whether you can obtain a state trademark.

The benefits of obtaining trademark protection, either federal or state, is that it makes it easier to stop other people from using your brand, your business name or whatever your mark might be. If you don’t register it, you still do have some level of protection; however, I can honestly say that obtaining a trademark is usually a fairly inexpensive process and the benefits you get from those statutory rights usually far outweigh the cost of obtaining the mark.

© 2014 Parsonage Vandenack Williams LLC

For more information, Contact Us