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Your company’s trademark is essential to its profits. Registering a trademark on the federal level gives you exclusive rights to produce products or deliver services with that trademark and gives you exclusive rights to license that trademark to others, such as franchisees.

This is especially important in the world of franchising. If you are awarding franchises to other parties to sell your products or services, you must make proper accommodations allowing that party to use your trademarked property. An attorney could help you with securing a federally registered trademark in North Carolina to protect your intellectual property with regards to franchising. Securing a trademark is an invaluable step in starting your franchise.

Registering a Trademark in the Federal System

The first step towards protecting your trademark is applying for federal recognition through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The USPTO defines a trademark as a brand name that includes a symbol, device, or other word used to differentiate an applicant’s product or service from its competitors.

To accomplish this goal, applicants must follow the specific procedures established through the USPTO. This includes:

  • Selecting a mark that is easily identifiable
  • Ensuring that the mark is in the correct format
  • Checking the USPTO database for any conflicts
  • Selecting a filing basis
  • Completing and submitting an application

Filing for federal trademark protection gives notice to the public that a product is the output of a specific company and that the company owns that trademark with exclusive rights to use or license that trademark. A knowledgeable attorney could provide advice concerning whether a trademark is protectable, help choose a trademark that is likely to receive approval and provide guidance through the necessary steps to obtain protection from the USPTO.

Transferring Trademark Protections to North Carolina

Another option for securing a trademark is to limit one’s effort to the state level. Accomplishing this is a multi-part process that is similar to the federal procedure but contains key differences.

Much like at the federal level, an applicant must first check that there is no similar or identical trademark currently in use. This includes checking with the Secretary of State’s database on North Carolina trademarks, inspecting the business registration division database, and consulting the USPTO database.

If there is no conflict, an applicant must gather three samples of the trademark being used in advertisements or on their goods. These can include:

  • A specimen of the product itself with the trademark on an attached label or tag
  • A stamp on the specimen
  • A photograph depicting the mark on the goods in question
  • A web page printout depicting the mark and the goods or services for sale

The examples must accompany a formal application for trademark protection. According to North Carolina General Statutes §80-3, this application must include information concerning the applicant, their business, and whether the application is for a standard character mark or a design mark.

A standard character mark includes words, numbers, and common punctuation, while a design mark can include artistic designs that have no common translation. An experienced lawyer could provide further guidance as to the requirements for securing a registered trademark in North Carolina.

Filing a Federally Registered Trademark Can Be Essential to Proper Franchise Planning in North Carolina

If an entity properly registers their trademark with the USPTO or North Carolina’s Secretary of State, that owner retains the power to sell licensing rights to that trademark within that geographic area. An attorney could help protect your trademarks and prepare your product for franchising under a franchise agreement, so contact a lawyer today to begin the process of securing a registered trademark at the Federal level or in North Carolina.