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Let the Market Guide Your Trademark Decisions

Believe it or not, trademark law is here to serve you. Therefore, you should let the market guide your decisions in what trademarks to register and what enforcement actions to take.

Much of trademark law is optional. You don’t need a federal (or state) trademark registration. Getting a registration can be smart, but it’s not required. So, let the cost guide you in deciding whether it’s worth the effort.

The same is true with enforcing your trademark rights. The law doesn’t require trademark owners to oppose every application for a potentially-conflicting trademark registration. It also doesn’t require you to sue every potential infringer. Oftentimes, you get to pick your battles, and you should do so carefully.

It usually comes down to whether you would get a good return on your investment. In other words, you should apply to register your name, logo, and/or tag line if it would likely be worth your while to do so. The corollary is that if you wouldn’t likely obtain a good return on your investment, you shouldn’t bother. The same is true with seeking to enforce your trademark rights. Now, it’s often not very expensive to do what’s needed to maximize one’s trademark rights, but owners should be strategic in allocating their resources.

Granted, if you’re on the receiving end of a cease-and-desist letter or trademark infringement lawsuit, your options are more limited. But the value of your trademark investment and likelihood of success in maintaining it — read: practical economics — should still drive the train.

Let the market be your guide. Whether you’re playing offense or defense, a trademark lawyer can help you decide what steps are likely worthwhile, and what steps you can skip. But in the end, it’s usually not complicated. It should be about getting your money’s worth — doing the things that provide good value, and forgoing the things that don’t.

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