Trademarks are the first line of defense for any brand or enterprise. Without them, a business’s unique values and identity would be easily copied by competitors. Each type of trademark has its own specific legal requirements that must be met in order to protect your interests as well as those of consumers.
The “economic importance of trademarks” is a term that has been used for a long time. It’s an important part of the economy and can be very beneficial to businesses.
Trademarking is only one of the measures to take when beginning your own company to guarantee that everything works properly. The idea of dealing any legal concerns on your own may sound daunting, but trademarking isn’t as frightening as it seems when broken down.
Here are the fundamentals.
What is the definition of a trademark?
A trademark might be a sign, logo, term, slogan, or a corporate name that has been registered. It safeguards your reputation and guarantees that your intellectual property is not infringed upon by other firms.
In a nutshell, it’s the greatest method to set your company apart from the competition—yet if you don’t register a trademark, you risk losing ownership of your own concept, artwork, and all of the creative energy you put into it.
While trademarks protect your ideas against infringement by other firms, they serve a distinct legal function than other types of intellectual property. The major objective of patents and copyrights is to lay claim to a product; the main purpose of a trademark, on the other hand, is to provide customer protection by removing the possibility of customers mistaking one firm or service with another.
What are the benefits of doing a trademark search?
A trademark search is crucial because you might be sued for trademark infringement if you try to trademark a phrase, term, or logo that is already in use by someone else. This might result in a significant financial loss for your business, as well as the need to start again with your branding.
If someone can establish that you are guilty of trademark infringement, the following may happen, according to the US Patent and Trademark Office:
- You are required to cease using the trademark by a court order.
- Any item bearing the accused mark must be destroyed or forfeited, according to the ruling.
- monetary remedies, including your earnings, the plaintiff’s losses, and the expenses of the lawsuit
- An order requiring you to pay the plaintiff’s legal costs in specific circumstances.
None of these are problems you want to deal with while attempting to establish your own company (or ever, for that matter), so be sure your name, logo, or slogan is available before it’s too late. A registered trademark search may be found here.
It’s worth noting that the more distinct two firms are, the less essential trademark similarity becomes. For example, people would not be confused if a taco restaurant and a tire store had similar (or even identical) trademarks. However, if two boutique businesses have the same trademark, the situation becomes considerably more complicated.
Trademarks that are registeredR against those that are unregisteredTM
Nike and Coca-Cola are two examples of federally registered trademarks that are well-known throughout the nation and have been registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Unregistered or common law trademarks are generally only enforceable in the geographic area or place in which the trademark owner is doing business.
To create a common law trademark, all you have to do is start using your trademarked logo or phrase (after establishing it isn’t already in use), and your trademark will be subject to the “common law” regarding its use wherever you do business—whether in a city, state, or across the nation. There is no paperwork to fill out, and no fees to pay.
However, if you want your trademark to be recognized by the federal government, you’ll have to go through a long procedure (about six to twelve months). You must submit a trademark application, either as a “Use in Commerce” application (if you have previously used the brand) or as a “Intent to Use” application (if you haven’t sold any items yet but want to). A trademark examiner will be assigned to your case after a three-month waiting period.
If the examining attorney detects a possible conflict with your trademark, you must reply to an Office Action, which may require you to modify your trademark or file an appeal with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. You have six months to react to the Office Action, after which the trademark is published in the Trademark Official Gazette if there are no disputes. Anyone with access to the internet may view your trademark and perhaps submit an objection to it. If this happens, an opposition hearing will be held to challenge the trademark’s validity.
Your trademark will be registered after you’ve overcome any of these barriers, and if you submitted an Intent to Use application, you’ll need to show that you’re currently using it. If someone else submits a trademark application after you, you will be given priority.
Reasons for trademark registration denial
While consumer confusion is the most common cause for trademark dispute, the USPTO website lists a few additional grounds for not issuing a trademark:
Deceptively misdescriptive or just descriptive:
A purely descriptive trademark only refers to a component, quality, characteristic, function, feature, or usage of the products or services in question. For example, “denim” may be used to sell jeans, while “spicy sauce” could be used to sell salsa.
A deceptively misdescriptive mark misrepresents an ingredient, quality, characteristic, function, feature, or usage of the specified products or services, such as when the term “cafeteria” is used to describe a sit-down restaurant that is not cafeteria-style.
Whether it’s mainly geographically descriptive or deceptively misdescriptive:
A purely geographically descriptive mark merely specifies the products or services’ geographical origin.
A mark that is principally geographically deceptively misdescriptive is one in which the products or services do not originate in the location stated in the mark—for example, a clothing company named “London” that manufactures garments in North Carolina.
Initially, it was only a surname:
This is self-explanatory: if a mark’s major relevance to the buying public is a surname, the examining attorney will reject registration.
An “ornamentation” is a decorative feature of a product that does not truly differentiate it from similar products. For example, a message or image on a coffee cup that does not truly indicate the source of the products, such as “my granny loves me.”
To sum it up
It is not necessary to get a federal trademark for your firm, particularly if you are a small business wanting to build a name in your local community.
Obtaining a federal trademark, on the other hand, assures that no one else in the nation may use your brand and demonstrates to clients that you are serious about your company.
When thinking about trademarking, the most crucial thing to keep in mind is that you won’t be infringing on anybody else’s trademark. Meanwhile, let your creative juices flow and prepare to brand your company in a manner that no one has ever seen before!
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The “the value of a trademark” is an important factor to consider when thinking about how much money you want to spend on your brand. It can be difficult to know the true value of a trademark before it’s too late.
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