A “trademark” is a word, symbol, phrase, design/logo, or some combination of those things that identify your goods or services in the marketplace.
Technically, a trademark is used to identify goods, while a service mark identifies services. As a practical matter, the word “trademark” can refer to either a trademark or a service mark.
- The benefits of a trademark include:
- Identification of your goods and services in the marketplace;
- Provides legal protection for your brand; and
- Helps you protect against fraud and counterfeiting of your goods or services.
Many people erroneously believe that obtaining a trademark (or a service mark) means you “own” that specific word or phrase in the marketplace and that you can prevent other businesses from using that word or phrase. In fact, a trademark does not mean you “own” the word or phrase. It only means you can control how the word or phrase is used with respect to your specific goods or services.
For example, suppose you trademark your logo for use in your candle making business to identify your brand and your products. You would not be able to prevent others from using a similar logo in a non-candle making related goods or services. Others would potentially be prohibited from using your exact logo (because of copyright) in any industry.
As with anything related to intellectual property, the more unique your trademark or service mark, the easier it will be to protect it.
Owning a trademark versus Registering a Trademark
You become the owner of a trademark or service mark as soon as you start using it in the sale of your goods and services. However, the legal rights you receive as a result of merely owning a trademark are limited. In that case, your legal rights would likely be limited to your specific geographic area.
If you wish to obtain nationwide protection, you must actually register your trademark or service mark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Washington, D.C.
The experienced trademark lawyers at the Law Office of Derek R. Van Gilder will properly register your trademark in order to obtain maximum legal protection for your goods or services.