What is a trademark?
A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. A service mark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than goods. Trademarks make up much of the brand images we see every day. The Nike swoosh, Adidas bars, Apple’s slightly bitten apple; all examples of registered trademarks.
What does a trademark do?
A trademark (or “mark”) is how to differentiate yourselves from others and shows that your goods and services differ from a competition and your brand, is how you prove that your goods and services are better. A trademark is a protection to your name in connection with what services you offer and your Good Will. The name, mark, sign, color, and smell that is distinguished as your brand. For example, when you pick up a bottled soda, and you see the Coca-Cola trademarked logo on the label, you expect to drink Coca-Cola, as opposed to Pepsi. That’s what trademarks do, they help consumers differentiate between your brand and a competitors. A federal registered trademarks gives you the right to use your trademark all across the nation as the owner of the mark. A federally registered mark allows you use the ® mark on your products, and puts your trademarked name in the USPTO registry. The advantage of being listed in the USPTO registry is that prevents someone from filing a similar mark that would be likely confused with your trademarked name and offered goods and services. If you are looking to submit a trademark, you will want to make sure that you search the USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) to make sure that your mark will not be denied due to likelihood of confusion for another similarly named marked with similar services. You will also want to search state trademark databases, business name databases, and a general internet search to find any potential conflicts to your mark and avoid any trademark infringement which could result in costly litigation and inability to move forward with your business.
How does a Trademark differ from Patent or Copyright?
Patent is for an invention of a particular product. A copyright is for original artistic works. A trademark is associated with these, but is distinctively different. For instance, you may have a patent for your invention and you decide to name it “Invention Co.” That name can now be trademarked, to protect a competitor from using your name Invention Co in the market. You may publish an ad you drew stylizing the patented invention with the name for Invention Co, this would be copyright, since it’s an artistic work. A trademark can cover the color, characters, font, and/or stylized script, wording, and design of your name. Such as Coca-Cola’s distinctive cursive script, or Pepsi’s boxed layout design. A business name registered with the state is not trademarked. A website domain is not trademarked either. A trademark is a special filing with the USPTO that prevents any other entity from using your trademarked name. The more generic the trademarked name, the less likely it is going to be approved, e.g. “Milk” for “dairy based beverage.” The more abstract and fanciful your trademark, the more likely it will be approved, e.g. “At a Glance” for “monthly calendars.” Before you file- The USPTO cannot tell you whether or not your mark with be granted. In order to tell if your mark will be granted, you must file the trademark filing fee, which covers the complete legal review of your mark. The USPTO cannot enforce your trademark either. Benefits of Hiring an Attorney who specializes in trademark law:
Preform a prior use search for your mark and give a legal opinion of the availability and strength of your selected mark.
Interpret the results of prior mark search, and potential likelihood of confusion to your mark.
Navigate the application process, select appropriate specimen to submit, prepare any responses from the USPTO office, and inform you of your trademark rights.