Trademarking your business might not be the first thing on your mind when you’re just starting, but with so many entrepreneurs starting businesses, it’s wise to think about it. Many companies probably render the same services as you, and you need to be distinct. Trademarking protects your business within your vicinity and country.
Your trademarked business will be protected by trademark law in Orlando and throughout the country when registered. It’s good to know the basics of trademark law before registering your trademark.
This will help you understand what to do and what’s prohibited under trademark law. You should familiarize yourself with the basics before speaking to an Orlando trademark attorney concerning your trademark. This article contains what to know.
Basics Of Trademark Law
Beyond registering your trademark, you should know the basics of trademark law. This helps you understand the whole idea behind trademarking and how well the law works in your favor.
If you’re not so familiar with trademark law, the following will help you:
What is a trademark?
Familiarizing yourself with trademark law requires that you know what a trademark is. You can explain trademarks in different forms. First, it is a word, symbol, or name used to identify a business, product, or service in the marketplace. Furthermore, it can signify the value and quality of a brand and product, especially if it’s a registered, reputable brand.
It also protects a business’s intellectual property and distinguishes the brand, and prevents others from using a confusingly similar mark. Trademarks make your business distinct even when selling the same goods as other business owners. Trademark law protects trademarks, and the USPTO is responsible for approving them.
Symbols under trademark laws differ. Before registering your trademark, you can protect your intellectual property by adding the “™” or “SM” symbol on your mark. This alerts the public of your claims on the mark, whether it’s registered or not.
When you eventually register your trademark, the symbol changes to “®” to show the registered status. This indicates that your mark has superior rights and gives you legal protection.
You can’t use this symbol when your registration is still pending. Common law trademark protects your mark when unregistered. Specifically, it covers it while you are in the process of getting complete legal protection for your mark.
Difference between trademark, copyright, and patent
There is a difference between a trademark, patent, and copyright. Patents and copyrights protect scientific inventions and creative works, artistic works, inventors, and creators. On the other hand, a trademark helps prevent unfair competition.
It prevents people from creating confusion in the marketplace by using a similar mark. Furthermore, it prevents others from profiting from your trademark and protects customers from deception.
The USPTO has different rules regarding trademarks, including what can be trademarked etc. For example, the USPTO doesn’t allow generic names or terms to be trademarked.
Furthermore, you cannot register a trademark considered immoral, scandalous, deceptive, disparaged, or falsely suggest a connection with beliefs, institutions, persons, or national beliefs.
In addition, a trademark must not be deceptively or merely descriptive, primarily geographically descriptive or functional. The mark also cannot be generic, illustrative of the goods or services, or a commonly used term in the trade.
If so, you may encounter some difficulties while registering your mark. You must research your trademark availability before registering – a trademark attorney can help you with that. The more distinct and unique your trademark is, the higher the chance of availability to you for registration.
Trademark infringement occurs when another individual uses your mark without approval. An instance involves when an infringer uses a mark similar to a registered one relating to similar goods or services the original trademark operates.
Furthermore, infringement occurs when an infringer uses a sign identical to a recognizable, registered trademark and poses an unfair advantage to the character or reputation of the trademark. You can’t use another person’s trademark on your packaging or business papers, import or export under the mark, or advertise or sell products with it. All of these are deemed as infringement.
If someone is accused of infringement, they can challenge the validity of the trademark or that the infringed sign is the owner’s name and cannot be infringed. In addition, if you can prove a trademark infringement, you can seek damages in respect of loss experienced due to the infringement, erasure, injunction to prevent further use, removal of the obliterating sign, or destruction of the goods, materials, or articles.
Trademark law is based on the Lanham Act. When you’re sure the mark is truly unique, you can use the ™ symbol to claim the trademark and use it within a geographical area. However, to extend the protection, you must register the mark and secure a federal registration at the USPTO office.
While registering your trademark is not compulsory, doing so provides your mark with a level of protection, and you can enjoy legal advantages. You can register your trademark after confirming its originality. The USPTO will approve it, which gives you nationwide ownership of the mark. They’ll publish the mark after approval.
This enables you to register the mark with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), preventing imports of counterfeit or infringing products from entering the country.
While there are laws available regarding trademark protection, you’re also responsible for protecting your mark. The USPTO won’t police or monitor the market on your behalf. You must monitor the market to check if anyone’s using a counterfeit or a confusingly similar mark like yours.
Then, you can take action against infringers and report them. This is when the law will protect your mark. You can take legal action if your mark is registered; if it isn’t, you can only use the law of passing off to protect the mark.
Knowing trademark basics will help your business survive in the competitive marketplace. It helps you choose a unique trademark for your good and services and protects your business from infringers. While you can run your business without officially registering your trademark, it’s important that you do so that the law can protect you fully.
Furthermore, you can add the ™ symbol on your mark pending the approval of your trademark. Working with a trademark attorney during trademark registration or any trademark-related issues makes things easier and helps you get the best out of the situation.