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Protect Your Brand: Concerns in the Time of COVID-19

Author: Ginny Cascio Bonifacino Date: 08/31/2020

Categories: Covid-19 News and Resources, Intellectual Property

Image of a person's hand holding a rubber stamp that says "Trademark" representing protecting you business through trademark law. COVID-19 is affecting every part of our lives in some way or another.  Protecting the brand that you created should not be overlooked.  To be competitive and recognizable in the market place, you have no doubt expended resources to build your brand and its related goodwill.  Whether by common law or through federal registration, trademark law is a powerful tool that you can use to protect your brand, logo, or name from being used by someone else with the same or similar goods or services to promote their business.  

Use of your mark is fundamental to maintaining your rights and the protection of your mark.  The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ensures that you are continuing to use your registered mark by requiring statement of use filings and/or trademark renewals at 5 years, 10 years, and then every 10 years after that.  Missing these filings will result in the loss of the protections afforded to a registered mark. 

What can you do if you have had to temporarily shut down your business because of COVID-19?   How can you renew these filings and maintain your federal registration?

Thankfully, there is an option for trademark owners because the USPTO will accept temporary excusable non-use as a reason to still renew your registration in very limited circumstances. Informing the USPTO that you are not using your mark because of COVID-19 is not enough and potentially dangerous.  Holders of trademarks have to demonstrate that the non-use is due to a cause outside of the holders’ control.  For example, closing your brick and mortar store is insufficient if you could sell your products online.  A carefully constructed argument is necessary with an understanding of the limitations.  If these circumstances are relevant to your business and its registered mark(s), then it is essential that you discuss your specific circumstances with legal counsel to ensure you are making the strongest argument possible.

If you are worried about your trademark protection or other intellectual property issues, please feel free to contact me at 240-778-2315 or gcbonifacino@mcmillanmetro.com.  My areas of practice include intellectual property, artist’s rights, corporate and business law, and employment law.