Of the most valuable assets of any business are its trademarks: its name, its logo, or even its trade dress: its product packaging, design, or interior decor. In some instances, companies have asserted ownership over something as fundamental as a color in their industry. In order to maximize value and protection over this valuable assets, trademarks should be registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Trademarks are deemed to be owned simply by usage. In other words, registration is not required. However, protecting a trademark becomes far more difficult without registration. A trademark application for registration may be filed prior to usage in the marketplace, followed by proof of usage after use begins.
At times, during registration, the USPTO may issue an “office action” either denying the trademark or requiring additional documentation concerning the application. Both the application process as well as office actions require close attention and strategic planning. At times, applications can be faced with challenges from other companies urging the USPTO to reject the application. Other times, a third-party may file a complaint with the USPTO claiming that a previously registered trademark was obtained under false pretenses. These also require planned responses.