Did you know CBD brands can hire the US military to protect their brand? Sounds impossible, right? In this article, we’re going to talk about how a federal trademark allows you to hire an army to protect your brand and business.
Before getting into how your CBD brand can hire an army to protect your intellectual property rights, let’s talk about the concept of common law trademark rights versus the benefits of having a federally registered trademark.
US trademark law differs from international trademark laws because it’s based on common law, rather than first-to-file law. This means that you have common law rights for business names, taglines, product names, logos, design elements, and sounds for goods or services for which you use in that mark. This starts when you use the mark in commerce for the first time within a geographic area. It endures with continual, deliberate use.
To illustrate this, let’s say you start using the brand name “Crush” for your CBD cookies. Common law trademark rights allow you to stop a competitor in your area from using your mark, “Crush”, or anything confusingly similar to your mark on their CBD brownies because you have established those rights by using the mark before your competitor.
Now you may ask, why would you want to spend money to get a federally registered trademark if you already have common law rights to your brand? Well, here are three important benefits a federal trademark registration provides, which common law trademark rights don’t.
Federal Trademark Protection
As we mentioned earlier, common law trademark rights are limited to the geographic area in which your mark or brand was actually used. But as your business grows, that area will naturally expand and you will need protection for your brand across different states.
This means, going back to our previous example, that as the brand owner of “Crush” with only common law rights you will find yourself faced with the task of establishing and reestablishing your common law rights by setting up shop and advertising in one state to another, and so forth.
In contrast, a trademark registered with the USPTO establishes your rights throughout the country, throughout the entire United States. That’s one benefit of having a federal trademark.
Presumption Of Ownership
Another benefit of having a federal trademark is it carries with it the presumption that you are the true owner of that mark. This means that should you need to bring action against an infringing entity (or if you’re ever sued by another party for infringement), a registered federal trademark will give you the ability to bring an action in federal court and walk into court with the presumption that you truly are the owner of the mark at issue, giving the other party the burden to prove otherwise.
Statutory Damages For Infringement
And finally, having a federally registered trademark also gives you the ability to pursue statutory damages when someone infringes on your mark. If you only have common law rights and sue someone because they’re breaching or infringing on your trademark rights, you would have to prove how much damage you actually suffered or incurred. That’s very difficult and costly to do, and most of it is actually guesswork.
Rather than having to prove a concrete value of damages, a federally registered trademark sets the damages for you up to $2 million per trademark infringement – a lessened burden on your part and a greater chance of success in court. Again, this is a lot easier than having to show how much damage was actually done.
This is a great benefit of having a federally registered trademark and is as important as being able to hire the US Military. So let’s talk about that.
Hiring An Army To Protect Your Brand
Once you have a federally registered trademark, you can enroll in a program through the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. Now while it’s not the military, it’s kind of like hiring the military, because here’s what they’ll do.
When a shipment comes into the United States, they will inspect it and make sure it’s not infringing on your trademark. Essentially, any inauthentic or fake products that come into the country that have your brand name or logo on it, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol will go ahead and confiscate it. They may contact you to determine whether it’s your shipment and if it isn’t, they will destroy the product.
To apply for the program, you only need to fill up a simple government form and pay a one time fee, which is a few hundred dollars. This is a great way to fight off counterfeit products. Moreover, this will be critical as CBD and hemp sales, and the market and industry itself continues to grow and boom.