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.
Types of Trademarks
There are a number of different types of trademarks you can obtain, depending on how you are using your intellectual property. When preparing to register your Florida trademark, consider the type of trademark you would like to obtain. The main ones include:
- Generic Mark: A generic mark is a generic phrase like “The Grocery Store.” These do not qualify for trademark protection unless they describe specific qualities and characteristics of your business.
- Descriptive Mark: Descriptive marks identify specific, unique characteristics of a product or service that customers recognize, and they only serve to describe the brand.
- Suggestive Mark: A suggestive mark suggests something about the brand but does not describe it, like a running shoe company called Speedy’s.
- Fanciful Mark: Fanciful marks are easiest to obtain trademark protection for because they are often made-up words and do not infringe on the rights of others.
- Arbitrary Mark: Arbitrary marks use a common phrase but in a different context – like Apple or Amazon. In these cases, the term is familiar but has nothing to do with the product being sold.
- Service Marks: A service mark is simply a trademark for services instead of products. These need to be registered with the USPTO just as trademarks for products do.
One additional type of intellectual property protection to consider is “trade dress” protection. This type of protection can help protect your unique packaging if your product comes in a special bottle or box that clearly identifies your item.
Factors to Consider in Choosing a Florida 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.
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.
Florida 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 in Florida?
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.
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.
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.
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 Florida 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.
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