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How do I maintain my trademark registration?
Trademark rights can last indefinitely if the owner continues to use the mark to identify its goods or services. The term of a Michigan trademark registration is 10 years, with ten-year renewal terms. A renewal application will be sent to the original applicant six months before the renewal is due and must be returned to the Bureau within the six month renewal period. To ensure the renewal application is received, the mark holder should make sure the agency has its current address.
Who can use the symbols TM or SM?
Anyone who claims rights in a mark may use the TM (trademark) or SM (Service Mark) designation with the mark to alert the public to the claim. It is not necessary to have a registration, or even a pending application to use these designations. The claim may or may not be valid depending upon if anyone else has a claim to the mark. The registration symbol ® may be only used when the mark is registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
When should an entity register at the federal level?
Registration at the federal level should be considered if the mark will be used in interstate commerce, (e.g., a small business which is expanding, or a large business operating in many states). Federal registration offers a broader level of protection than is afforded by state registration. State trademark registration cannot override or restrict federal registration, and in cases where there is a discrepancy between federal and state law, federal law will generally pre-empt state law.
The laws governing the registration of trademarks and service marks are similar at the federal and state level. At the federal level, registration is governed by the Lanham Act. This Act describes registration requirements, provides the remedies in cases of mark infringement, and prescribes the duties of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in the registration process, including registration fees. If you have any quesitons or would like a copy of the Lanham Act, contact the USPTO at http://www.uspto.gov