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  • Peter Lamont, Esq.

The Importance of Filing a Trademark for Your Business|Twisted Sister

When you hear the word "trademark," you might think of big companies like Coca-Cola or Nike. But the truth is that filing a trademark is one of the best ways to add value to your business, no matter its size. In fact, the band Twisted Sister recognized the importance of protecting their brand and filed their trademark before their first album came out.

What is a Trademark?

A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. A service mark is a similar category of protection that applies to protecting phrases, symbols, and designs identifying and distinguishing services rather than products. Both types of marks may be registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Trademarks and service marks are used to promote and sell goods and services. They are valuable property rights that may be sold, licensed, or bequeathed by their owner. However, before investing time and money in seeking registration of your mark with the USPTO, you should determine whether it is available for use and registration. Additionally, it has become increasingly common for businesses to seek international registration of their trademarks as well.

Why Register Your Trademark?

There are many benefits to registering your trademark with the USPTO. First, federal registration creates a presumption that you own the mark statewide or nationwide (depending on the registration basis on which you proceed), thereby allowing you to stop others more easily from using it without your permission. Secondly, federal registration puts the public on notice that your mark is being used for commerce; however, use in commerce does not necessarily mean interstate commerce. Rather local, intrastate commerce will suffice so long as it demonstrably affects interstate commerce in some way (i.e. if your products will be sold out-of-state at some point in the future).

Additionally, trademarking your brand can add value to your business should you ever decide to sell it. Buyers will be willing to pay more for a business that has a registered trademark than one that doesn't.

Once your mark is registered with the USPTO, you can use "®" with your mark to indicate that it is registered and presumptively off limits to would-be adopters., Federal registration also allows you to bring an action concerning your trademark in federal court if necessary. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, federal registration may serve as a basis for registering your mark internationally, which can be very important if you are seeking to protect your brand name in foreign countries where they also have strong trademark laws.

Filing a trademark is one of the best ways to add value to your business, no matter its size.

Twisted Sister

In order to protect their work, Twisted Sister registered their trademark before they released their first album. This ensured that no one could use the band's name without permission and protected their intellectual property. By taking these precautions, Twisted Sister was able to ensure the longevity of its brand and maintain control over its music.

In 2013, two sisters, Sandra Russell and Nancy Hansen, who were operating a coffee shop in Mission Kansas called Twisted Sisters were shocked when they received a letter from John French, the founding member of the heavy metal band "Twisted Sister," claiming that their use of “Twisted Sisters” was confusingly similar to the Twisted Sister trademark and constituted trademark infringement.

When Should You File For A Trademark?

You should file for trademark protection whenever you adopt a new name, phrase design, or logo for labeling or promoting your products It is advisable to file before investing significant money or resources in using or promoting your new branding Many people wait until they have already begun using their new branding before filing for protection, but this can open up additional legal risks including being forced to stop using the name phrase design or logo altogether. Being proactive about seeking legal protection for your new branding will save you time, energy, and money down the line.

Consult An Attorney Before Trying to File a Trademark on Your Own

Filing for a trademark is not something that you should do on your own. There are many rules and regulations that must be followed in order for your application to be accepted. An experienced attorney can help make sure that your application is complete and accurate before it is submitted. They can also help you choose the right classification for your goods or services and conduct a search to make sure that your proposed mark is available for use.

When it comes to filing a trademark, it is important to have an attorney on your side. Trademark filings are complicated, and if you make a mistake, you will have to refile and lose the fees you paid the first time. Having an attorney to help with the process can save you time and money in the long run.