As a Florida entrepreneur, you probably know that your intellectual property is one of your business’s most valuable assets. The best thing you can do is to protect your trademarks as soon as possible. But once you have been granted trademark rights, those marks need to be maintained to avoid trademark abandonment or loss of trademark rights.
In Florida and across the U.S., a trademark can last as long as it continues to be used in interstate commerce. However, if you cease to use your trademark, or you fail to enforce your trademark rights, a court may consider this trademark abandonment. In this article, the BrewerLong team will explain the basics of what a trademark is and how to protect your trademarks from loss and abandonment. Reach out today to speak with a trademark attorney.
What Is a Florida Trademark?
A Florida trademark protects any identifying and distinguishing marks that set apart the goods or services of a Florida business. Trademarks include words, phrases, symbols, and designs and can even include a combination of all these things.
In Florida, trademarks are governed by both state and federal laws. The Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations is responsible for registering and maintaining state trademarks, meaning trademarks that have intellectual property protection in the state of Florida only. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) handles the registration of federal trademarks, which are trademarks that can be protected on a national scale.
How to Get a Florida Trademark
To obtain a Florida trademark, you will need to file a trademark application with the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations, and meet certain requirements, such as having a unique and distinctive mark used in commerce within the state. Registering a trademark is not required, but it can provide important legal protections for a trademark owner.
Keep in mind that once you register a trademark, you will need to maintain and protect it from trademark loss or trademark abandonment. If you have questions or need assistance with registering a Florida trademark, the BrewerLong team can help.
How to Maintain Your Florida Trademark
Once you have your Florida trademark, the first step in protecting yourself against trademark abandonment or loss is to properly maintain your mark. In Florida, you must continue to use the trademark in commerce and renew your registration with the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations.
Steps to properly maintaining a trademark include:
- Use your mark in commerce;
- Monitor for trademark infringement;
- Renew your registration—both Florida and federal trademarks require periodic registration renewals for protected marks;
- Maintain accurate records, as you may be audited at any time to confirm ownership or continued use of your mark; and
- Enforce your legal rights and seek to enforce your trademarks through cease-and-desist letters and, if necessary, litigation or alternative dispute resolution.
Maintaining a trademark in Florida requires ongoing effort and attention. Speaking with an experienced intellectual property lawyer can help you maintain your marks and protect yourself from trademark abandonment and loss of trademark rights.
What Does Trademark Abandonment Mean in Florida?
Abandonment of a trademark in Florida means that the owner of the trademark has stopped using the trademark or has no intention of using it again in the future. Abandonment can occur voluntarily or involuntarily, and it can have significant consequences for the owner of the trademark.
Voluntary Trademark Abandonment
If a trademark owner voluntarily abandons a trademark, they may lose their exclusive rights to use the trademark, and the trademark may become available for others to use. This means that the owner may no longer be able to prevent others from using the trademark or stop others from using a confusingly similar mark. Additionally, the owner may lose the ability to enforce any rights they have in the trademark, such as by bringing a trademark infringement lawsuit.
Non-Use Trademark Abandonment
If a trademark is involuntarily abandoned, such as by failing to renew the registration or failing to use the mark for an extended period, the owner may lose their rights to the trademark as well.
In Florida, a trademark can be abandoned if the owner has not used the trademark in commerce for at least three years. This is known as non-use abandonment. If a trademark is abandoned due to non-use, it may become available for others to use. If you are considering winding up your business or have other reasons to cease using your mark, that trademark may still have value. Speaking with an intellectual property attorney can help you avoid trademark abandonment and consider alternatives to loss of trademark rights.
How BrewerLong Can Help
Understanding how to protect your trademarks in court can be complicated. The experienced intellectual property attorneys at BrewerLong have helped many businesses protect their trademarks, as well as other forms of intellectual property. Contact us today for a consultation.
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