The first thing we must do is to clarify exactly what a Trademark is. A Trademark is a way to legally register a symbol, word, company, product, name, sound and in some cases colors. It is a brand name that is used to differentiate the services of one provider from another, allowing you to know where your product originates from. It separates your product from other similar products in commerce. A Trademark becomes the beacon of the type of services or quality that the public comes to expect from a particular brand.
A Trademark, while not necessary, does provide the owner with protection. A Trademark will ensure the owner exclusive rights of property, as well as the ability to sanction its use by others for monetary gain. A Trademark protects goods or services. This means that another company or individual cannot utilize an identical symbol, similar likeness or image to promote their product.
How to File For a Trademark
The very first thing you should do is search the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) database: patft.uspto.gov . In doing so you will know if someone else already has a claim to that which you wish to register. After you have taken this step and assured that your symbol, word, company, product, name, or sound is unique to you then you should go to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's Web site, www.uspto.gov.
It is not necessary to register a Trademark but without one it makes taking legal action a bit more difficult. It is advisable to seek the advice of an attorney that specializes in Trademark law should a problem occur.
You can register your trademark within one state but it does not give you federal recognition nor does it offer the same protection. Registering within state can be a viable option if you do not qualify for federal registration. This option will most likely dissuade others from using the same trademark to avoid legal complications with the original trademark owner.
Shelf Life of Trademarks
There are time constraints with trademarks. Once registered you are given ten years. It is possible that your trademark can lapse within that time. If within six years you do not file a statement (called a Section 8 Affidavit) and affirm that your Trademark is still viable in commerce you can lose your Trademark. To continue renewing for every ten years you will need to fill out a Section 9 Affidavit which you can find at the USPTO. If you fail to renew you may not lose your trademark but you do lose the specific benefits that being federally registered grants you.
Knowing the Difference Between ™ and ®
The TM (™) symbol can be used on anything that you want recognized as Trademarked. It does not have to be registered in order for you to use it. The R (®) symbol can only be used if you have registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Trademark vs Copyright
Both Trademarking and Copyrighting protect intellectual property. However, as we have already established Trademarking protects a name, words, slogans, sounds, or phrases that are unique to certain products and services, and sets them apart from the competition providing similar services. For example: many companies may create a similar product such as sneakers but they are not allowed to use the Nike swoosh. That is a unique branding tool to Nike.
Whereas Copyrighting is used for protecting creative works such as writing, photographs, music, film and art. It protects the content but not necessarily the ideas contained within. So while no one is allowed to copy verbatim a poem by D.H. Lawrence they could find inspiration from his work and create their own work and copyright that. A Copyright gives the owner exclusive rights to the material created and disallows any type of unauthorized reproduction without the consent of the content owner.
Neither the author of this document nor the operators of this website are attorneys or accountants. The information presented here should be considered a general overview. This information does not constitute legal or financial advice.