There are a number of intellectual property myths that attorneys hear over and over again. Periodically, we’ll feature some of these myths and examine the reality.

Myth: I should register my trademark precisely as I use it today — with the same color, font and designs — so my registration is accurate.

Reality:  It is often better to register the word or words that comprise your trademark in “standard characters” rather than a stylized format.  A word mark in standard characters will typically have broader protection than the same words registered in a specific style or color.   Consider which is more important to you: the words that comprise the mark or their appearance?  The owner of a standard character word mark can still use the mark in a stylized format and this use will be accepted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) as evidence of use of the mark.

However, if a trademark application is submitted for a stylized design mark, the trademark owner must continue to use the design as it appears in the registration.  While some changes and updates are permitted, if the changes are “material alterations,” they will not be accepted by the USPTO as evidence of use of the registered design mark.  Further, if a trademark owner is using a “materially altered” trademark, it risks facing challenges about whether it is entitled to the benefits of registration.  For this reason, if the design is “materially altered,” the owner should consider filing a new application to obtain the benefits of federal registration.