The main thing that you do with your trademark, both before and after the process of registering your trademark, is that you use the trademark to communicate the source of your goods and services (you) to your customers in the marketplace.
When someone interferes with that communication by appropriating your trademark, you have a variety of options to stop them. The fact that you have registered your trademark can be very helpful in stopping the trademark pirates from destroying or misappropriating the good will associated with your business name.
Let’s talk about a hypothetical business named “Pasquale’s House of Tomato Pie.” Note that, in order to register the trademark, “Pasquale’s House of Tomato Pie,” your name need not be named Pasquale. For this example, let’s assume that “Pasquale’s House of Tomato Pie” sells frozen pizza over the Internet from Austin, Texas and ships frozen pizza to all 50 states and much of Europe. Pasquale’s House of Tomato pie has been wildly successful and is the leading name in artichoke-and mushroom pizza. Let’s assume, for this example, that Pasquale has done the right thing and hired a lawyer to successfully complete the process of registering “Pasquale’s House of Tomato Pie” as his trademark for selling pizza.
Because the buzz around “Pasquale’s House of Tomato Pie” is so great, some sleazy rip-off artist in New Jersey subsequently starts selling second-rate pizzas under the name “Pasquale’s Tomato Pie.” So, people get on the Internet and search for Pasquale’s pizzas and they end up buying from the rip-off artist in New Jersey rather than the real deal from Austin, Texas. This is a problem for Pasquale. To make matters worse, the rip-off artist in New Jersey makes bad pizza. So, he is not only stealing from Pasquale but tarnishing the “Pasquale’s House of Tomato Pie” brand in the process.
Because Pasquale went to the trouble of registering a trademark, he has many options for dealing with the rip-off artist in New Jersey. Pasquale will go to the lawyer who handled registering his trademark. The lawyer will then send a cease-and-desist letter demanding that the rip-off artist in New Jersey quit using the “Pasquale’s Tomato Pie” name. Let’s assume, for the sake of this discussion, that the sleazy rip-off artist in New Jersey refuses to quit using the name.
What probably happens next is that Pasquale will file suit for trademark infringement. His lawyer will file a law suit alleging that sleazy rip-off artist in New Jersey is creating a likelihood of confusion by selling pizza under the name “Pasquale’s Tomato Pie.” Because Pasquale has taken the time and gone to the expense of registering his trademark, his chances of winning the lawsuit and stopping the sleazy rip-off artist in New Jersey are significantly enhanced. This is the key. Registering a trademark helps you resolve disputes without having to break some guy’s legs.