First, the good news for the passive. Under United States law, you obtain some limited protection from a trademark just by using it (this and other basic trademark concepts are covered ad nauseum in our other articles I have written such as the ones here and here).
However, the reality is that this level of protection has very little economic value to a successful business; failing to register trademarks will lower the value and ultimately the selling price of a business. Ignoring registration will also severely handicap the ability of a business to defend itself in any potential litigation that might arise related to its brands.
I believe that every new business should register at least it’s most essential trademark, which is most frequently the name of the company or best selling product or service. At the same time, given the realities that growing businesses must often make tradeoffs in how they spend money, it doesn’t usually make sense to register all the logos, taglines, brand names and every other possible trademark that a company uses.
So how much is enough? When is trademark protection of a logo particularly important?
For some businesses, a logo is in fact the strongest identifier of goods and services it owns. For example, Ralph Lauren squeezes an extra 30% out of you just for having a certain silhouetted man, horse and stylized stick emblazoned on your clothing. But this is rarely the case with new businesses.
If this isn’t true for your business, there are two scenarios cialis under which it still makes sense to register a logo as a federal trademark:
1) Your company (or product/service) name is considered “descriptive” of the goods and services you offer.
Descriptive trademarks offer very limited protection and are difficult to register. Thus, competitors have a bit more leverage copying these trademarks or using similar trademarks for similar goods or services. However, many logos of companies with descriptive names that contain that name can be registered as trademarks. Why? Because when you trademark a logo, you are claiming exclusive rights to the graphical presentation of that logo, rather than exclusive rights to the words embedded in the logo. Of course, this is not inherently positive if you are trying to protect the words, but the critical thing to remember is that the embedded words will show up in a trademark search by others looking to claim rights to them later. Thus, anyone in the future who wants to protect these same words and who does a reasonably diligent search will be made aware of your existence. This will serve as a significant deterrent, potentially saving you (and them) lots of money fighting for the rights to these words in court.
2) Your brand is visual and the visual component is unlikely to change.
If a design or color scheme is a critical component of what you are selling, you should achieve the peace of mind of knowing that a seasoned trademark attorney believes it is legitimately distinctive and not infringing upon existing logos.