What-You-Need-to-Know-About-Florida-Trademarks

Operating a business encompasses a lot of things and nearly every aspect requires attention.

One of the most important is how potential customers view and recognize your business. A trademark is one way to set your business apart from others.

Multiple benefits exist upon deciding to undertake a Florida trademark registration. Companies must always be aware of imitators seeking to engage with potential customers and benefit from your hard work. These imitators can detrimentally affect your business’s reputation by producing subpar products or services. Florida trademark registration is a vital step to protect the future of your business.

A company’s names, logos, and designs do more than just identify that company–they add value to the company and its products. Protecting these trademarks is just as important as protecting the company’s cash deposits, equipment, and other tangible assets, if not more so.

Florida Trademark Attorney Ashley Brewer

What Is a Trademark? 

According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), a trademark is “a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.”

 Once registered, trademarks never expire. Trademarks rights arise from actual use. They arise from the date of first use for goods and services. Therefore, as long it is in constant use for products and services, a trademark can last forever.

Factors to Consider in Choosing a Trademark 

Factors to consider when choosing a Florida trademark include the following:

Strength of Mark

Trademarks range from weakest to strongest depending on how distinctive they are. Trademarks including words or symbols that are unusual or unrelated to the product they represent are more likely to receive trademark protection. For example, Google is distinctive because the word “Google” has no meaning apart from the company’s name. Likewise, Apple has trademark protection for its name and symbol because apples have nothing to do with computers. On the other hand, it would be difficult to trademark the word “ice cream” in connection with your ice cream business. Ice cream is a generic word identifying your product. 

Commonality of Mark

Whether a Florida trademark is used commonly by other third parties affects the strength of a mark. For example, the term “gym” and “fitness” about a personal gym are likely widespread. Multiple businesses with the same words in the title likely exist. Therefore, it’s important to research similar businesses in your area. Your business name and symbol should be unique to your business. This assures it does not get confused with similar businesses in the area.

Long-Term Goals 

Examining the long-term goals of your business is also important. For example, let’s say you name your business, “Orlando Press.” Your business begins to grow exponentially, and you wish to expand nationwide. However, you now feel your Florida trademark pigeonholes you to business within Florida state limits. If you can see your business changing in a way that may affect the desirability of your trademark down the road, you should take that into account.

Trademark Search

Undertaking an extensive trademark search through the national database is vital to the trademark process. The trademark process is relatively straightforward. However, significant delays can occur if you discover your trademark already exists. A trademark database provides information regarding what businesses were first to use a particular mark. The first business to use a trademark has priority over others. Additionally, if you use someone else’s trademark in your business, they may be able to bring a trademark infringement claim against you.

Florida Trademark vs. Federal Trademark 

There are a few differences to be aware of between registering your trademark in Florida and registering it with the federal government.

Florida Trademark Registration

Trademark registration in Florida is governed by the “Registration and Protection Acts.”  Registering in Florida does not afford you the same level of protection as a federal registration. While Florida trademark registration prevents others from using your name or design, those protections are limited to use within the state. In Florida, trademark rights exist from the first use of goods and services in commerce. Trademark registration in Florida is valid for only five years. Trademarks may be renewed so long as renewal fees are paid six months before the five-year expiration. 

Federal Trademark Registration

Federal trademark registration is governed by the USPTO. As long as federal registration renewals are current, registration for a trademark can also theoretically last forever. In contrast to Florida registration, federal registration of a trademark is required every ten years. Renewal fees must be paid six months before each ten-year expiration.

Additionally, between the fifth and sixth year, one must file a Declaration of Use. Between the ninth and tenth year, you must submit a Combined Declaration of Use and Application of Renewal. Missing deadlines may result in your registration’s expiration.  

Why Should I Trademark?

Recognition

Trademarks are an essential part of any business. A business’s name and symbol are the definitive ways it is distinguished from other similar companies. 

Trademarks make it easy for customers to find you and your business. A trademark symbol captures customer attention and makes your business stand out.

Protection

Federal trademark registration creates a legal presumption of ownership over that mark nationwide. A Florida state trademark creates that same legal presumption of ownership statewide. 

Registering your trademark gives your business the exclusive right to use the trademark connected with the goods and services identified in your registration. Other businesses are prohibited from using your trademark for financial gain. If you discover unlawful use of your trademark, you may file a lawsuit against that person or business. 

Value

A trademark is an added value to your business. As your business value grows, so does the value of your trademark. Trademarks may also help pave the way for entry into other industries.

Trademarks can be bought or sold. They are an asset to any company. They can also be used as a security interest to secure a business loan. 

Permanence

As provided above, so long as trademark registration remains current, a trademark can continue indefinitely. The continuity of a trademark is an invaluable feature for any business. Registering your trademark ensures multiple benefits substantially outweighing the costs and fees associated with registration.  

How Do I Use My Florida State Trademark? 

To help others recognize your Florida trademark, you can use symbols such as TM or SM. You may also use the registered Ⓡ symbol if you have a federally registered trademark. Although using these symbols is not required, it may prevent others from adopting the same mark. Additionally, if you use one of these symbols, anyone who uses your trademark without permission may be deemed to have notice of its registered status. 

Why Hire A Trademark Lawyer? 

Florida trademark registration gives you the right to enforce your trademark statewide. It prevents others from using your trademark for financial gain. Additionally, registering your Florida trademark creates an identity for your business and distinguishes it from your competitors. Understanding the necessary steps in trademark registration can be an arduous process.

Engaging the services of the experienced legal team at BrewerLong assures a streamlined Florida trademark registration process. Protect your hard work. Each of our clients receive personal attention and legal assistance of the highest caliber. Our practice focuses on helping businesses with a range of complex legal issues. Contact us to learn how to register a trademark in Florida. 

This blog post is provided on an “as is” and “as available” basis as of the date of publication. We disclaim any duty to update or correct any information contained in this blog post, including errors, even if we are notified about them. To the fullest extent permitted by law, we disclaim all representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied with respect to the information contained in this blog post, including, but not limited to, warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title, non-infringement, accuracy, completeness, and timeliness. We will not be liable for damages of any kind arising from or in connection with your use of or reliance on this blog post, including, but not limited to, direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, and punitive damages. You agree to use this blog post at your own risk. Regarding your particular circumstances, we recommend that you consult your own legal counsel–hopefully BrewerLong.

Author Photo

Ashley Brewer

Ashley helps business owners and executives protect their businesses and intellectual property. Her goal is to minimize risks as businesses grow. Ashley regularly advises business leaders about owner agreements, intellectual property (protection, management, and capitalization), regulatory compliance, real estate, and commercial contracts. Ashley enjoys helping new and growing businesses with careful planning and problem prevention.

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