What is a Trademark?
For many businesses, the most valuable asset is its good name. This is where trademarks come into play. A trademark registration can be for a word, logo or design (also called a trade dress) that will be strongly identified with your product, service or business activity. A service mark is the same as a trademark except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product. The terms “trademark” and “mark” are commonly used to refer to both trademarks and service marks.
You can even trademark a color or a scent! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves yet.
Trademark rights protect the goodwill that consumers have come to expect when they encounter your trademark. Unlike patents, trademark rights may be perpetual.
Before picking a name for your business, make sure to search and see if anyone is using a similar name, logo or slogan. Once you get your mark registered, it is important to monitor a competitor’s improper use of your mark and take appropriate action when needed.
Trademark rights may be used to prevent others from using a confusingly similar mark, but not to prevent others from making the same goods or from selling the same goods or services under a clearly different mark. Trademarks that are used in interstate or foreign commerce may be registered with the USPTO.
Some of the advantages of having a registered trademark:
- Presumption of ownership
- Exclusive right-to-use
- Access to the federal courts
- Right to use federal registration
- Ability to block the importation of infringing goods