As soon as you start using your trade­mark whether you’ve applied for fed­eral reg­is­tra­tion or not, you should pro­tect it. If your trade­mark is fed­er­ally reg­is­tered, you can do the fol­low­ing to pro­tect your name:

  • Use the ® sym­bol. You don’t have to use it, but it does pro­vide notice to poten­tial infringers and improves your chances of col­lect­ing dam­ages and lost prof­its in court.
  • File Sec­tion 8 and 15 Dec­la­ra­tions. Between the fifth and sixth year fol­low­ing fed­eral reg­is­tra­tion you should file these dec­la­ra­tions to tell the USPTO that your mark is still in use and that your reg­is­tra­tion should con­tinue in force. Your mark will then be incon­testable which means it makes it more dif­fi­cult for some­one to chal­lenge your mark.
  • File Sec­tion 8 Dec­la­ra­tion and Sec­tion 9 Renewal. Within six months after the tenth anniver­sary of your reg­is­tra­tion, file these doc­u­ments to renew your registration.
  • Police your trade­mark. If you don’t assert your rights, you might inad­ver­tently aban­don them. Polic­ing means con­duct­ing peri­odic trade­mark searches or even hir­ing third par­ties to police your mark. If you dis­cover a poten­tial infringer, you may want to take action to pro­tect your rights. Some­times you’re on the other end and some­one will make a claim against you that you’re infring­ing their rights.

In either case you’ll want to take a ratio­nal approach that doesn’t esca­late the mat­ter beyond a rea­son­able res­o­lu­tion of the mat­ter. The res­o­lu­tion often depends on who used the name first, who fed­er­ally reg­is­tered the name first, whether the goods or ser­vices are sim­i­lar, and whether there is customer confusion.