In the virtual age, trademarks have become an even trickier subject than they once were. Print media has expanded to include many more possibilities for trademark violation issues via the internet, through email marketing and in many other digital forms. It is critical to know what you are dealing with when trademarking a name, product or service, or handling a trademark issue or legal infringement of some kind. This information will help you to choose carefully when picking out domain names, marketing language and advertising material for your business so as to avoid potential trademark issues and customer confusion at all costs. As you enter into the world of trade and service marks, here are some questions you might be wondering about.
1.Question: What is the difference between a trademark and a service mark?
A trademark is essentially the brand name that distinguishes the goods or products of a particular entity from another business’s goods or services. It can take many different forms, from letters and numbers in a word or name, to symbols, images, devices or more complex combinations of these. A service mark, on the other hand, is essentially the same thing, but instead of representing a specific good or product, it represents a particular service offered by a company or other source.
2.Question: Why should I register my trademark with the federal government?
The benefits of registering a trademark with the government are primarily protective and preventative in case of future legal issues. Once you register your trademark, you will be able to show proof that you are the original owner of that mark. There will be national notice that you are now the owner of that trademark, and you will then have the right to take legal action if another individual or company infringes upon your brand name. Getting internationally recognized trademarks is also much easier if you first have a national trademark, and you will be able to more easily protect against imported goods that violate your trademark.
3.Question: How do I determine if something is already trademarked?
It is easy to figure out if a particular name, word or symbol is already trademarked, and this is certainly a step you should take before attempting to trademark something, especially if your trademark sounds or looks similar to an existing one. Simply visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office website to use the Trademark Electronic Search System. Be mindful that you may want to search for trademarks that are similar, in sound or spelling, to your business’s trademark, as even subtle distinctions between words, names and symbols can lead to major legal conflicts.
4.Question: If I’m considering filing a trademark application, should I use a lawyer?
Attorneys can be useful in helping you deal with trademarking a product or service, but they are not necessary. Lawyers or specialized trademarking organizations can help you perform comprehensive trademark searches to see if your desired trademark may come into potential conflict with an existing one. Whether or not you have an attorney helping you file, you are still responsible for completing all the filing requirements of the Trademark Act and Trademark Rules of Practice law.
5.Question: How do I file a trademark application?
Through the United States Patent and Trademark Office, you can access the appropriate forms that will help you to file a trade or service mark. Electronic filing has been made easy through the Trademark Electronic Application System. You will find all the information you need to apply for your trade or service mark online through the above resources.
Now that you know the basics of trademarking a product or service, you will be well equipped to apply for the appropriate trademarks for your business and deal efficiently with any trademark issues that arise.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.