The identity of a brand can include a logo, slogan, mascot, color scheme, and other distinguishing features. The success of a company can depend upon the strength of a brand’s identity.

When selecting a brand name, make sure that it is unique and creative. If your brand is distinctive, it will be easier to promote to your customers and will also be easier to protect under the law.

Once your brand is established, you should use it as often as possible. The more you promote your names, logos, and slogans, the stronger your brand will be to your customers.

How Can I Protect My Brand under the Law?

A number of important legal protections exist to help you protect your brand from your competitors. To ensure that your competitors do not misuse your brand, you should register your brand with the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Trademarks serve to identify products and promote products to consumers. They can be owned by any legal entity, including individuals and businesses.

If your company offers a service rather than a product, you can obtain a service mark, which is similar to a trademark but used for services instead of goods.

Trademark Protection and Associated Rights

The following types of trademark protections exist:

  • Common law marks – These are marks that result from actual use and are not registered federally or under any state law. The user of such a mark acquires restricted rights over the trademark use. The scope of these rights only cover geographic locations where the trademark is actually used and expected to be used.
  • Trademarks under state law –If a trademark is used in interstate commerce, it may be registered in many different states. If it is not used in interstate commerce, it can only be registered under the law of the state where it is actually being used.
  • Federally registered trademarks – These are trademarks that are protected by the federal law known as the Lanham Act. Such trademarks result from constructive use. In another words, the federal trademark application may be filed before the actual use of the trademark, provided that the filing is based on the "bona fide" intent to use the trademark in the future.

What Protections Result from a Federal Trademark?

Here are several advantages of registering your trademark federally:

  • The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database lists the trademark
  • The public receives notification of your rights in the trademark
  • Federal registration creates legal presumption of ownership
  • The trademark’s or service mark's owner owner can take action in federal courts to stop trademark or service mark infringement
  • National registration in the US allows for international registration
  • Recording your registration with the US Customs and Border Protection Services forestalls trademark infringement by foreign importers

Do I Need an Attorney?

A qualified intellectual property lawyer can help you develop, protect, and trademark your brand. If you believe that another company is profiting from your brand, you should consult with an experienced attorney immediately to ensure that your rights are protected.