When founding a business, a customers’ ability to identify the business and its products or services is paramount. Thus, businesses often wish to protect what it is that makes their brand recognizable. Trademarks help ensure that other businesses don’t operate under names or with brands that are substantially similar to yours and are likely to cause confusion. In essence, trademarks protect your brand. Unfortunately, trademarks are a complex area of law with many intricacies that can be difficult to navigate.
What is a trademark?
A trademark identifies and distinguishes the source of goods based on a word, phrase, symbol, design, or a combination thereof. Servicemarks are like trademarks, except they identify the source of services rather than goods. Generally, the term “trademark” includes servicemarks (“trademark” and “mark” is inclusive of both marks for this post). Trademarks are registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) and as a result, trademarks are federally governed and effective nation-wide.
How does a trademark differ from a copyright or patent?
Trademarks, copyrights, and patents all protect different forms of intellectual property or “intangible things.” A trademark protects a brand – the name, logo, etc. whereas a copyright or patent protects work products such as original pieces of artwork or new technologies. Thus, Nike and its corresponding swoosh are protected by a trademark, while Nike’s advertising designs may be protected by copyright and its shoe technology may be protected by a patent.
What does the USPTO consider when assessing trademark applications?
Trademarks are protected to ensure that individual brands are protected. As a result, not every trademark can be registered, particularly those that may cause confusion as to which company, product, etc. is being represented. When assessing whether a trademark can be registered (and therefore protected), the USPTO will consider two primary factors:
- the likelihood that the mark is confused with other trademarks; and
- the relatedness of the trademark to the goods or services offered.
Applying to register a mark that is similar to an existing trademark is not guaranteed to result in a rejection. The USPTO will also consider various factors in making the determination, including, the relatedness of the mark to the goods and services.
Business and Trademarks Lawyers Serving Augusta, Georgia
At Klosinski Overstreet, we have helped numerous businesses navigate the complexities of intellectual property law, including registering and defending trademarks. We understand the registration process and the concerns that the USPTO may have, which allows us to avoid trademark pitfalls that many businesses and entrepreneurs face. If you have questions pertaining to trademarks, please contact our office today to schedule a consultation.