Begin the new year by taking advantage of the U.S. Trademark Office’s reduced filing fees for new trademark and renewal applications.

The previous filing fee for a new trademark application was $325 per class.  Effective January 17, 2015, this fee has been reduced to $275 per class.  Further, the filing fee for a renewal application was $400 per class, and has now been reduced to $300 per class.

With these reduced fees and a fresh start to the new year, it is now time to look into protecting your company’s assets and revisit some trademarks you have been meaning to file.  The importance of trademark protection for your company, products, or services cannot be overstated.

A trademark is often referred to as a brand or a brand name and is used by businesses as an identification sign to distinguish their goods or services from those of their competitors.  It can be a name, picture, signature, color, word, shape, sound, smell, or any combination of these, so long as it is distinctive.

Every business has at least one company name, trade name, brand name, logo, or slogan it uses to advertise its goods or services.  However, many businesses do not take the effort to protect their right to the exclusive use of their trademark.

If you register your trademark, you will receive a statutory right to protection of that name throughout the whole country.  This right can be evidenced by the use of ® to indicate to consumers and other competitors that the trademark is registered.  If a competitor starts to use the same or a similar name, trademark registration gives the owner of the trademark a quicker, easier, and cheaper way to prevent that competitor from using that name.  Trademarks are also valuable business assets in that they can be sold or licensed.

As branding becomes increasingly important in marketing, businesses must take action to register their trademarks to protect their rights in a brand name.  Ideally, a comprehensive trademark search should be conducted before the business is set up or the product or service is launched.  Just because a company name or domain name is available, do not assume that it can be used.  It may infringe against a trademark which may later prevent your ongoing operation.  Therefore, initial branding is also important and should be considered.

With the new reduced fees from the U.S. Trademark Office, it is now time to start looking at trademark protection and securing your exclusive rights to your mark.  It is an important investment towards your businesses assets.