What is a trademark?

Giselle Ayala Mateus, Esq.

PDF HERE

A trademark is a form of intellectual property. It is a distinctive sign that can be created or adopted in the form of any word, phrase, symbol, design, or a combination of these things that identifies your goods or services. It’s how customers recognize you in the marketplace and distinguish you from your competitors.

A trademark:

  • Identifies the source of your goods or services.
  • Provides legal protection for your brand.
  • Helps you guard against counterfeiting and fraud.

In the United States, specifically, it is not necessary to register a trademark in order to establish ownership of one. However, registration is a best practice because otherwise, it can become costly and complex to prove ownership, enforce trademark rights, or request payment of damages for trademark misappropriation.

What can be trademarked?

  • – Product names and nicknames (for example, both Coca-Cola and Coke are marked)
  • – Logos
  • – Sounds (like the distinct NBC chimes)
  • – Business names
  • – Slogans (like Nike’s “Just Do It”)
  • – Color combinations or schemes (like the brown of a UPS truck)
  • – Smells (yes, smells. Hasbro received a Play-Doh scent trademark in 2018)

What can’t be trademarked?

  • – Any mark that is already in use, or is too similar to a mark already in use
  • – Generic descriptive words
  • – Commonly used phrases or messages
  • – Direct religious quotes and passages

What is the trademark symbol? How do I use it?

A trademark symbol TM informs the public that someone claims rights over a logo or word as a trademark. This may serve as evidence of knowledge that a trademark is owned by another. A ® symbol indicate that a trademark is registered before the USPTO.

 

Contact us to schedule a free consultation. Our team would be happy to discuss your trademark, provide a preliminary clearance search and explain the trademark application process.

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