Trademark Owner's Rights

How do I contest someone else using a trademark similar to mine?

There are several ways to dispute use of your trademark by a third party. If someone is attempting to register a trademark that is the same or confusingly similar to yours, you can usually contest their application with the state agency or the USPTO.

TIP: If you find that someone is using your trademark, you should consider contacting an attorney, preferably one specializing in trademark law. Time is of the essence.

Can the ownership of a trademark be assigned or transferred from one person to another?

Yes. Both state and federal trademarks can be assigned or transferred. It is a common practice when a business is sold. A registered mark or a mark for which an application to register has been filed is assignable. Written assignments may be recorded in the state agency or with the USPTO for a fee. Assignment forms are usually available wherever application forms can be obtained.

I have a registered trademark, and someone else is attempting to register one that is substantially identical. What should I do?

If you believe the new trademark will damage your trademark rights, you can "oppose" the registration by filing a Notice of Opposition with the USPTO. You must follow specific rules for opposing a trademark. The rules are found on the USPTO Web site.

TIP: You have 30 days after the trademark registration is published in the Official Gazette-Trademarks to file a Notice of Opposition. The Gazette is published online at the USPTO Web site.

Sidebar: If a new trademark will not result in confusion, the Trademarks Commissioner has a duty to grant the registration.

What do I need to show to have my objections to a trademark sustained?

You must have evidence concerning:

  • the strength of your trademark
  • the large degree of similarity between your trademark and the proposed trademark
  • the similarity between the two products
  • the existence of actual confusion
  • the lack of sophistication on the part of buyers to distinguish between the two products

My spouse owned a trademark registration and has since died. Do I own it now?

Perhaps. It depends on state law. Consider contacting an attorney, preferably one specializing in trademark law. Local bar associations and telephone directories usually have attorney listings broken down by specialties.

I think my trademark is being used by another business in a foreign country. Can I do anything?

No. U.S. laws do not protect trademarks in foreign countries. Anyone doing business overseas must look to that country's laws for registration. You must get the advice of a lawyer in the foreign country and take steps as quickly as possible to register your trademark.

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