Copyrights and Trademarks

What is a trademark?

A trademark is a distinctive name and/or symbol used by an individual, business organization or other legal entity to distinguish its business name and the products and services it provides from those of competing individuals or businesses. Trademarks may be registered with both the Federal Government and the State of Florida. While registering a trademark is not conclusive proof of the ownership of the trademark, registration is advisable because courts typically view registration as a presumptive act of actual ownership.

Trademarks are sometimes identified by the symbols ™ or ®. The ™ symbol is typically used by the trademark owner in print references and marketing when the trademark has not yet been registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The ® symbol is used after the trademark has been registered.

Do trademarks, copyrights and patents protect the same thing?

No. Trademarks, copyrights and patents protect different things and can often overlap. A trademark or trade name protects a word, phrase, or distinctive sign or symbol associated with a particular good or service. A copyright protects an original artistic or literary work and a patent protects an invention. A single business may be able to trademark its business name, patent one its inventions and copyright aspects of the design or marketing of the product.

How long does a trademark last?

Registrations awarded on or after November 16, 1989 have a 10 year term. Registrations awarded prior to November 16, 1989 have a 20 year term.

Do I need to do anything to maintain my trademark registration?

Yes. An Affidavit of Use must be filed between the fifth and sixth years following registration and during the last year of every ten year period. You must also file a renewal application during the year leading up to the expiration.

What is the United States Patent and Trademark Office – USPTO?

The USPTO is an agency of the United States Department of Commerce that regulates the registration of patents and trademarks. Copyrights are regulated through the U.S. Copyright Office.

What are the benefits of registering my trademark with the USPTO?

  • Exclusive nationwide ownership rights for the mark within its industry; and
  • The right to use the ® symbol which notifies others of your Federal trademark rights; and
  • Recognition of trademark ownership in the Federal courts and greater chances of recovering damages if another individual or business is infringing upon your trademark.