Are unregistered marks protected under federal law? Please share some specific benefits of registration.
Unregistered trademarks are protected by common law regulations in the United States. This means that, whether they are registered or not, they will be protected by the federal Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125. This protects the trademark from becoming maliciously or intentionally misrepresented. Also, the protection grants the trademark the letters "tm" whether they are registered or not. Registration does not grant nor take away the validity of the mark.
However, there is a difference as far as benefits when you register a trademark. Not only are you covered more comprehensively, but registration often eases the lengthy legal processes.
Here are more benefits:
- protection of the logo (which, in itself is the icon of the trademark)
- ease of registration in other countries
- makes your trademark officially "yours" and there will be more protection in place in case someone tries to claim it.
- grants the automatic right to sue someone who tries to infringe.
- entails the official ownership of your trademark in the eyes of others.
- gives you more counts to sue for against any infringer, which means you can obtain more from one lawsuit.
You need an attorney that specializes in trademarks in order to become registered. It is a more complex process than applying for a pattern. However, registration clears the legal path toward complete nationwide and international ownership, makes any infringer pay more for trying take away the trademark, and protects the logo of the trademark which is the essential image that you want to show the world.