What is a trademark? You know that your business needs to establish its brand but what can you do to protect it? A trademark is a phrase or word, a symbol or insignia, that is recognizable and by its existence differentiates your product or company from other products or companies in the marketplace. Essentially your trademark provides a means for you to establish your ownership.
What’s In A Trademark? What Is A Trademark?
A wrench is a wrench. A screwdriver is a screwdriver. A hammer is a hammer. Even a toolbox is a toolbox. While these objects can be used for other purposes, for example, a toolbox could be used as a step ladder (though as attorneys we would not advise that for safety reasons), the products are easily defined and represented. But a trademark can be many things. A trademark can be a slogan, such as a catchy jingle that becomes synonymous with a particular product. (Think of “plop, plop, fizz, fizz” for Alka-Seltzer for example—if you’re old enough to remember that.) A trademark can be a brand. It can be a corporate logo. And a trademark can even be, simply, the actual name of the product, such as Pepsi or Gatorade, etc.
As a company or new business, you need to do your research, which can be quite extensive, before establishing your brand. You absolutely must protect your corporate or business identity, your products, your messaging, and your slogans, etc. And for this, you’d benefit from discussing all the nuances of existing trademark law with a qualified, experienced trademark attorney. Whether you’re in San Francisco, CA, or anywhere else in the world, if you’re seeking to protect your hard work and your company’s brand, contact a seasoned trademark attorney and put their legal expertise to work for you.
Avoid The Gray Area | Making Sure Your Trademark Is Unique
Your success, or failure, in the establishment of a legally-protected trademark will be predicated upon your ability to demonstrate that your mark, whatever it may be, is unique enough so as to not be confused with an existing one. A similar look, a similar sound, or similar meaning to one that is already legally established in the marketplace will likely lead to failure of trademark establishment. Contact your trademark attorney early in the process and make sure that your efforts are worthwhile. After all, time is money as they say, and it would be a waste of your valuable resources and time if you spend hundreds of hours establishing your brand, mark, logo, symbol, jingle, etc., to only find out later that it’s already in the market and owned by another company or corporation. Be efficient, save time and money, contact a trademark attorney when you’re thinking of establishing your brand.
Why You Need A Trademark
Simply stated, you need a trademark in order to protect all that you’ve built. Your countless hours of research and innovation could be easily stolen by a competitor or start-up, knowingly, or perhaps unknowingly. But make no mistake, if you get to the trademark office second, there will be no trademark handed out to you, which could be a tremendous loss financially.
As a company, corporation, small business, or home inventor working out of your garage or basement, you know your ideas are valuable, and a trademark will help protect them. You may want to protect products or services or your brand, and fortunately, most countries do have patent laws in place that typically provide protection against infringement of copyright. The United States has perhaps the most comprehensive trademark protection, and it is available through the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
While it is not necessary to register your trademark in order to receive the benefit of protection, there are advantages to doing so. It is important to remember that copyright law and trademark law are not the same, so contact your trademark attorney to understand the difference and make sure that everything you have, from product to IP, is protected in every way possible.
In a crowded global market, the competition for sales and market share is immense. You simply cannot risk losing step, losing product advantage, or losing revenue due to trademark infringement. Branding is key in today’s marketplace and you need to make sure that your brand stands atop a legal foundation that is not only sturdy but unmovable. Your business might be a small player today, but as you grow and become a dominant player in your industry you’ll want to be protected along the way.
Stand Out From Your Competition!
Trademarks not only protect your legal rights, but they help you stand out from the competition, and that is critical in today’s market. Trademarks become household names, slogans, and brand identities. Think of the last time you ordered a carbonated beverage at a restaurant or diner. Did you ask for a Coke? Did you ask for a Pepsi? I’ll bet you did. When you had that cold last winter, did you ask your husband to pick up some tissues on his way home, or did you ask him to pick up some Kleenex? Chances are you asked for Kleenex. And what is Kleenex, well it’s a brand and a very successful one at that!
Consider Some Of The World’s Most Successful Brands And Trademarks
Someone, somewhere in the world, is probably uttering a sentence similar to the ones below. Take a look at these examples of common trademarks in use in everyday conversation.
- Ouch, I cut my finger, can you grab me a Band-Aid?
- My lips are so dry, where’s my ChapStick?
- Can you pick up some Q-Tips at the drug store?
- My doctor said that while I was resting up, I should only eat Jell-O.
- Wow, what a beautiful day, you want to take Bowser to the park and throw some Frisbee?
You want to position your company, your brand, firmly in the market, and while you may never achieve Kleenex or Band-Aid status, you might become recognizable and established in your local community, across the state or country, or maybe even the globe. But the bottom line is, you need to get your brand out there, and you need to work with an experienced trademark attorney to ensure that what you create becomes yours, and only yours, forever.
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