We spend a lot of time helping credit unions acquire new assets, including new businesses. In addition, we help them protect and enhance the assets they have. A way that CUs can protect and enhance their current assets is to examine their intellectual property portfolios—in particular, their trademarks. The value and relevancy of your brands is critical, and the right time to think about it is now. A trademark audit is an important part of an analysis.
Such an audit has several key components.
First, we recommend doing a review of whether important brands, such as your name or marks identifying your key products or service offerings or newly acquired brands such as the name of a recently acquired credit union or bank. All of these can be protected through registration. Many institutions believe that long-time use shields them from infringement, however, this may not be the case. Common law rights are limited to the geographic area in which you have market penetration. Federal trademark registration, on the other hand, confers significant benefits:
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