A trademark or service mark identifies the source of a product or service. Trademarks distinguish one product or service from another. Words, symbols, logos, slogans, colors, product designs, sounds and scents can serve as trademarks. It is estimated that the average person is exposed to 1,500 trademarks a day. A trademark is an important marketing tool because it allows a business to distinguish its products and services from those of its competitors.
Selecting a trademark is just the first step in securing trademark rights. A trademark search can help determine whether the proposed trademark is already protected or in use by someone else. As a general rule, the more exhaustive the search, the more assurance you have that a mark is available.
A trademark must be used in connection with sales of goods or services prior to registration. Trademark rights arise from use of the mark on goods or packaging or in connection with the services offered. The trademark should be included on all advertising materials promoting the product or service. If a party has not yet used a trademark, but intends to use it, federal law allows the party to file an intent-to-use application to reserve the mark until it is used.
Because trademarks are so valuable in the marketplace, you should consistently protect and enforce your mark. If you don’t protect your mark, you may lose it to a competitor or dilute its effectiveness. Many businesses that have spent years building goodwill in their products and trademarks lose their investment because they did not take action when they discovered an infringing mark. Once you have a trademark, your work is not done. You must protect and use it to continue reaping its benefits.
Our firm handles federal, state and international trademark registrations.