A trademark is a word, a combination of words and symbols, a design or logo that distinguishes a company or products from others in the industry.
Trademarks protect the rights of the owner and help a business or brand stand out.
A “service mark” distinguishes that a brand applies to a service instead of a product, but it is common to see a “service mark” simply referred to as a “mark” or “trademark.”
Many well-known brands, slogans, and logos you love, know and trust have been registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), which greatly expands the protection that trademarks afford.
Trademark registration entitles the registrant to a right of ownership of the brand, business name, or slogan on a national-level and the right to use it nationwide.
Trademark ownership may help stop another person or company from registering a similar mark in the future.
Also, it allows the trademark owner to bring a case in federal court if someone infringes on the name or brand. Once registered, a registrant can begin to use the ® symbol after the name, slogan or logo.
The main reason for registering a trademark is to identify your products or services to potential customers uniquely.
National/Federal registration of a trademark helps prevent competitors of your business from stealing your business name, slogan, or logo.
Trademark Registration also protects you against misappropriation by confusingly similar marks used by competitors. Protecting your unique name, slogan, or logo in the form of a trademark is one of the most valuable investments in your business. If you ever decide to register a trademark or a service mark, Trademarkia network law firms can assist you in obtaining one.
The Trademark is the most popular and is typically used to register a name, slogan or logo associated with the sale of goods. A service mark, is the same as a trademark, except it applies to services specifically (a restaurant or travel agency might register a service mark). Often, people simply use the term “trademark” generally for marks for products and services.
Intent to Use applications are used when someone wants to trademark a brand that they are not yet using in commerce. These applications establish a company’s claim to a mark as of the date of filing. These are a great tool for clearing ensuring that a brand is safe to invest into, and ferreting out any would-be opposition before investing too heavily into branding and marketing. Once the application is examined, the USPTO will grant a registration once the applicant can show they are using the mark in interstate commerce, with protection extending back to the date that they initially filed.
The United State Patent and Trademark Office will not approve just any name that is applied for as a trademark. The USPTO classifies marks on a spectrum of distinctiveness. In order of least distinctive to most, a mark can be considered “generic,” “descriptive,” “suggestive,” “arbitrary,” or “fanciful.” USPTO is more likely to award a trademark application if a name more distinctive.
Generic names are rarely given protection. For instance, a company that makes steel and tries to trademark the name “The Steel Company,” for a company that produces steel, will not succeed. Steel is a term generically used to describe the products being sold, in this case.
Descriptive names are also difficult to register with the USPTO. For instance, “The Great Big Steel Company” is difficult to register because it merely describes qualities of the company or its products. Generally, descriptive marks are entitled to mark protection, but only if they have gained what has been termed “secondary meaning.” That is to say, the name has become so popular that despite the descriptive nature, the public associates the product with a particular company. An example is International Business Machines or IBM. Fledgling companies generally are not well known enough to have attained secondary meaning.
Suggestive marks, which often hint at the quality or another aspect of the business, are much easier to register. Trademark practitioners often call Suggestive marks the “sweet spot;” you still tell your consumers what sort of products you are offering, but not so blatantly as to be denied trademark registration. For instance, “Herculean Steel” may be more likely to be registered by the USPTO than “Strong Steel,” but conveys a comparable meaning. Herculean suggests the steel is strong, without outright describing it as strong. Nevertheless, the line between an identifying mark and a suggestive one is difficult to draw. Microsoft, which produces software for microcomputers, and Citibank, which renders financial services, are some well-known instances of suggestive marks. Brand owners usually like these names because it gives the consumer a good sense of what the company does without the need for further education or advertising to disseminate the name for the particular service or product.
Arbitrary marks are words used in a way unrelated to their regular everyday meanings. “Chocolate Steel” would be considered an arbitrary mark, and would be easy to register. The textbook example of the arbitrary trademark is Apple Computers - not to be confused with Apple Records. Of course, “Apple” being used as a trademark for food products would be generic, and very difficult to register.
Fanciful marks usually are the easiest trademarks to be approved. This mark may be a made-up word or a seldom-used word that has nothing to do with explaining the products. “Ecstimate” would be a fanciful mark for a steel company. Some examples of fanciful marks are Google, Yahoo!, Shopify, Exxon, and Spotify.
USPTO may also reject marks due to the following reasons:
A free trademark search is quite easy to do. All you need to do is to enter your keyword inside the box on our homepage and click on search. If you’re in the early planning stages, a free search is a great idea. It will reveal any direct matches with pre-existing trademark registrations. As you start to develop the brand, it is usually worth investing in a more comprehensive search.
Common law trademark is established under the United States law when someone uses a business name, slogan or logo in commerce, even if it's yet to be registered.
However, the common law trademark right is limited to the geographic location where the mark is used. Federal protection acquired when a mark is listed with the USPTO extends to the entirety of the United States. Unless registered, the use of a mark can be geographically limited, which hampers the ability to grow the brand. A person using a mark in a limited geographic location could be boxed in by another person who offensively registers a similar trademark.