Can I license my unregistered trademark (unique business name)?

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Can I license my unregistered trademark (unique business name)?

We have a small business. Investor wants to build a store using our name (which we will manage) and do a profit share arrangement with us. The deal would involve licensing the business name for investor’s benefit (and to protect our brand/name, etc). We have not yet registered our name with the USPTO or the state. Possible to license still? If so, any problems with such a set up?

Asked on August 8, 2012 under Business Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you can license an unregistered trademark, service mark, or tradename. That's because it is not necessary to license a trademark, etc. in order to have a protectable mark; registration increases the value of the mark, by providing more certainty that it is protectable and increasing what could be recovered from an infringer (and so an unregistered mark would be worth less), but is not a precondition to having a valid mark.


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