November 18, 2013

Build Your Brand Using Frequent Filer Lessons from Coca-Cola

by Guest Blogger

Coca-Cola is an American icon. It is the third most valuable brand in the world behind only Apple and Google according to Interbrand, and it is worth an estimated $80 billion.

Coca-Cola's trademarks play a critical role in building and protecting its valuable brand. It is a frequent filer of trademark applications. Coca-Cola has more than 430 federally registered trademarks and over 100 pending trademark applications in the United States alone.

Federal registration is not required to establish rights to a trademark, but it provides a number of important benefits including:

Prima facie evidence of ownership and validity;

A presumptive right to nationwide use of the trademark for the products/services listed in the registration, which can mature into a conclusive right after 5 years of continuous use;

A listing in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's online databases;

Public notice of the trademark regardless of whether the federal registration symbol "®" is used, which defeats a claim that an infringer did not know about the trademark;

The right to file a trademark infringement lawsuit in Federal Court;

The right to recover enhanced damages and attorney's fees in Federal Court if the federal registration symbol "®" is used;

The right to record the registration with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service to block counterfeits and infringing products at the port of entry; and

The ability to use the registration as a basis to obtain registration in foreign countries.

A federal trademark registration also helps with the recovery of domain names that have been pirated. In addition, a registration can be used as collateral for securing loans.

When you consider that in a best-case scenario a federal registration can be obtained for around $1,000 in government and attorney fees, a federal trademark registration provides great bang for the buck.

Given the important benefits of a federal registration and the relatively low costs, Coca-Cola files trademark applications frequently. An ordinary can of Coke is protected by no less than 10 federal trademark registrations. The registrations cover both words and designs.

When it comes to developing a trademark strategy for your business, you "Can't Beat the Real Thing." Coca-Cola takes advantage of the tremendous value provided by federal trademark registrations, and you can, too. By filing frequently, you will be well on your way to building a brand that will stand the test of time.