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the trademake process doesn't seem cheap
Here in the UK, it is quite cheap (around £200) - you don't say where in the world you are.
if you've been doing business under your domain name, then that should provide you some coverage in and of itself.
It does. From the UK patent office (www.patent.gov.uk):
If your trade mark is not registered you may seek redress through the courts under common law in a passing off action. For this to succeed you must persuade the court, first that the mark used by someone else is associated in the public mind with your own product or service, and secondly that the other person's goods have been mistaken for your own.
However, if your mark is registered you may sue for infringement under trade marks law. For this to succeed you have only to show that someone else has used a mark which is the same as (or similar to) your own registered mark on goods or services which are the same as (or similar to) the goods or services for which your mark is registered.
In certain circumstances the deliberate use of your registered mark on goods, by another person and without your knowledge, may be classed as counterfeiting. This is a criminal offence, and criminal proceedings may be initiated under trade marks law by police and Trading Standards Officers.
i've registered the trademark in the UK for one of my brands (ie, WIDGET) but the registration for the domain name (ie, WIDGET.COM) itself has to be separate as the mark is different
i've been advised that it's a good idea to register the trademark on the domain name as well as the brand - the trademark registration for the brand "might" cover the use of the domain name, but a trademark on the domain (WIDGET.COM) won't cover the use of the word (WIDGET)
my advice is to speak to a trademark attorney (or two) and get some advice - they charge a fortune, so consider filling in the forms yourself - but make sure a trademark attorney looks over your application before you send it in
the UK patent office are fairly easy to deal with, fairly helpful etc (once you have a good idea about what you're doing etc)