Registration of your trademark is not mandatory; however, trademarks on the USPTO Principal Register receive significantly stronger protection than state trademark and unregistered or “common-law” trademarks. That said, most brand registry programs offered by companies such as Amazon, Walmart, Etsy, and eBay, either strongly suggest of require an online seller to obtain a federal trademark registration before enrolling in their programs. So, although federal trademark registration is not mandatory, federal trademark registration provides the owner with many protections and benefits.
Obtaining a federal trademark registration from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) provides several protections and benefits for the trademark owner. Some of the main benefits include:
Legal presumption of ownership and exclusive right to use: A federal trademark registration serves as evidence of the registrant’s ownership of the mark and their exclusive right to use it in connection with the goods and services listed in the registration.
Nation-wide priority: A federal registration provides the registrant with priority over others who may later adopt the same or similar mark, throughout the entire United States.
Ability to bring a legal action in federal court and before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB): A federal registration allows the registrant to bring a legal action in federal court and before the TTAB to prevent others from using the registered mark or a confusingly similar mark.
Listing in the USPTO’s online database: A federal registration will be listed in the USPTO’s online database, which can make it easier for potential customers to find and identify your goods or services.
Use of the ® symbol: Once a mark is registered, the registrant may use the federal registration symbol “®” to give notice that the mark is registered and to deter others from using it.
Incontestability status: Once a trademark registration has been in continuous use for five consecutive years, the registration becomes incontestable, which makes it more difficult for others to challenge the validity of the registration.
Basis for foreign registration: A US registration can serve as a basis to obtain trademark registration in other countries under international treaties.
Overall, a federal trademark registration from the USPTO can provide the registrant with significant legal protection, the ability to enroll in brand registry programs offered by the premier online retailers, commercial benefits and can be an effective tool for building and protecting a brand.