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I want to protect my trademark. Must I register it to do so?

Are you familiar with the name Urban Meyer?

If you've got things other than sports on your mind, perhaps not.

Conversely, if you're a big sports fan (especially of college sports), that unusual and clearly distinctive name might ring a bell.

Meyer is the head coach of the truly big-time football program at the Ohio State University. He routinely orchestrates wins.

And sells athletic clothing, emblazoned with his name stitched on apparel in a distinctive way.

Those sales generate a lot of money for OSU and Meyer, and the university has thus taken the step of registering Meyer's name as a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Here's a relevant question associated with that: Did OSU have to register the mark to gain trademark protection and the ability to exercise enforcement rights? Does any entity -- e.g., a corporation, entertainer or athlete -- need to file for registration to instill confidence that would-be and actual mark usurpers will be enjoined from and punished for unlicensed use of the mark?

Short and simple answer: Although trademark registration is not mandatory to gain protection for a logo or mark used to sell goods (common law provides for such protection the moment a mark is first used in commerce), registration is advisable for a number of reasons, as noted by an overview of the process and registration's conferred benefits.

For starters, registration creates a legal presumption that the mark owner has exclusive rights to use the mark. A registrant can also seek registration in other countries and work with American custom agents to bar importation of infringing goods. Registration provides public notice to competitors and would-be infringers of mark ownership. Importantly, too, it eases entry for an owner seeking to invoke protections in an American court.

As seen, the advantages of filing for trademark registration are myriad and meaningful. An experienced intellectual property attorney can discuss them in detail with a mark owner and help secure their protections.

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