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What is the USPTO?

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is the federal agency that grants patents and registers trademarks to individuals and organizations.  A patent protects an invention or process.  A trademark primarily protects a word, phrase, or design that identifies the source of a business’s products or services.  Protecting your business through USPTO trademark registration yields numerous legal benefits.

  • Registering a trademark with the USPTO gives you the legal presumption of ownership and the exclusive right to use the mark in connection with the goods or services your business offers.  The USPTO will not register another company’s mark if it is confusingly similar to yours.

    This exclusivity protects the public as it helps your company maintain its distinct identity and good reputation in the marketplace.  When consumers see your mark, they know where it comes from.  The general public associates your business with the product or service they purchased.  How many sportswear companies are called Nike?  How many fast food restaurants are called McDonald’s?  Ensuring that consumers can easily identify the source of their purchases has the dual benefit of protecting your brand.
  • Your mark will be included in all of the USPTO’s online databases.  Mere registration potentially deters other businesses from using identical or similar marks, further protecting your identity and reputation.
  • Registration strengthens your legal position against infringing parties.  The ® symbol serves as a notice to the public of your trademark rights.  It also serves as the basis for bringing suit against anyone who attempts to use your intellectual property for their own gain.
  • A registered mark gives your business the basis for international registration, if you wish to expand your business to foreign countries.
  • You may prevent counterfeit items from being imported into the United States by recording your trademark with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.