What is a Trademark?
A trademark is a word, phrase, logo or other symbol, used to identify a product, the source of a product and the manufacturer or merchant. A trademark is usually used to distinguish one product and its manufacturer from another.
Common Types of Trademarks
There are many types of trademarks, such as:
- Service Mark - Rather than promoting a product, the service mark promote a particular type of service
- Trade Dress - A product is sometimes known for its special packaging, or trade dress
- Collective Mark - A collective mark is a symbol, word, or phrase used to identify a group, organization or association, and the products, services or members of the group
- Certification Mark - A certification mark is a symbol or name used to guarantee the quality of another's service or product
What is a Trademark Search?
Before you decide to use a particular trademark or name, you should conduct a trademark search to determine whether a similar trademark already exists. If you use a trademark that is similar to, or the same as, another person's registered trademark, you can be held liable for damages and the registered owner's attorney fees. Generally, a court will presume that the unregistered trademark owner knew about the registered trademark, even if you did not. Trademark attorneys and firms are trained to make a thorough inspection of registered trademarks to prevent this predicament.
- Confusingly similar to or the same as another trademark
- Prohibited or reserved
- Overly descriptive
Once the trademark has been approved by the Patent and Trademark Office, it will be registered for a term of ten years. Six years into the ten-year period, the owner must then file a form stating that the trademark is still in use. Otherwise, the registration may lapse.
Trademark Infringement or Dilution
Federal law offers protections for a trademark if someone uses it without permission. The trademark is protected from:
- Infringement - Infringement occurs when someone uses the same or similar trademark for a similar good or service
- Dilution - Trademark dilution occurs when someone uses a well-established trademark for a different service, but either tarnishes the trademark's good name through the use or weakens the consumer's association between the trademark and the services
Should I Consult an Attorney about my Trademark Issue?
An attorney can help you meet all the deadlines and fulfill all the requirements. A lawyer can also participate in on-going research to make certain no one else is using or diluting your trademark without your permission. Additionally, if you have an issue of trademark dilution or infringement, an attorney can guide you through the difficult and strict procedural requirements for litigation and bring out the core of your case.
Registering a Trademark
Consult a Lawyer - Present Your Case Now!
Last Modified: 02-16-2012 02:34 PM PST