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A trademark is a name, word, or symbol that differentiates the service or products of one party from another. It is considered a type of intellectual property. Trademarks can be owned by a business, individual, or entity.
Trademarks can be found on a label, package, voucher, or on the product itself. The “™” symbol is used to indicate a registered trademark and can only be used if the owner has registered the trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or the USPTO.
A trademark will generally fall into one of five categories: a generic mark, a descriptive mark, a suggestive mark, a fanciful mark, or an arbitrary mark.
- A generic mark can only qualify as a trademark if it contains specific details, or else it would create unfair monopolies. For example, if trademark protection was granted to something like “The Ice Cream Shop”, then it would block all other stores from selling ice cream. So to qualify as a trademark, a generic mark has to describe the specific ingredients, characteristics, or the quality of the product sold.
- As its name suggests, a descriptive mark describes the product by identifying at least one unique characteristic of the product or service sold. A descriptive mark may qualify for trademark protection if it also depicts other distinguishing aspects like the sales volume, its advertisements, consumer surveys, etc. A descriptive mark has to be something that the consumers recognize and associate with the brand.
- A suggestive mark alludes to something about the product or service sold. These marks can still qualify for trademark protection even if they don’t have any secondary meaning, as the designation of “suggestive” means that the consumer can infer what the product or service is without being told directly.
- A fanciful mark is a symbol, name, term, etcetera, that is distinct and different from anything else that currently exists. This mark is the easiest to secure trademark protection for because it’s evidently unique to the product and doesn’t compete with anything else.
- An arbitrary mark allows the use of a term or phrase with a well-known meaning. In this case, however, the meaning must be entirely different to how it is commonly understood. For example, “apple” is a fruit, but “Apple” is granted trademark protection as a technology company as it has nothing to do with the general meaning of the word.
Companies that offer services rather than products use a service mark. A service mark is essentially the same as a trademark. It falls under all of the same laws and has to be registered with the USPTO, but it differentiates the company rather than the goods.
Having a registered trademark will benefit your business in many ways. It distinguishes your product or service from those offered by other businesses and increases brand visibility both online and in the physical world. The additional distinction that a trademark brings can help to boost sales, which is obviously always desired.
If you are looking to register a trademark, it is highly recommended that you consult with a trademark attorney to protect the intellectual property of your company. Their expertise can best guide you through the many nuances of registering a trademark and prevent complications, while you can keep your focus and time on your business.
First, choosing a legally acceptable trademark for your business can often be surprisingly challenging. It is vital that the trademark you’ve picked is not already in existence and meets the requirements specified by the USPTO. Luther Law can help you identify and evade any potential conflicts before they even arise by creating a research report on your prospective trademark to ensure that there are no possible infringements.
Once you have chosen your trademark and are ready to register, Luther Law will ensure that this application is completed without error. As with any legal document, any mistake could lead to expensive consequences later on. I am well-versed in all of the technicalities in the process and can easily avoid those issues for you.
Aside from getting your trademark registered, Luther Law can also assist with enforcement in cases where you receive a cease-and-desist letter. Luther Law can ease the process of securing your trademark, and can provide protection against infringement claims.