What is a trademark, and why do you need one?

If you are starting a business or launching a new product or service, you might wonder what is a trademark and how it can benefit you. A trademark is more than just a name or a logo. It is a way of identifying your brand and protecting it from competitors.

Porsche logo on blue hood with water drops

If you are starting a business or launching a new product or service, you might wonder what is a trademark and how it can benefit you. A trademark is more than just a name or a logo. It is a way of identifying your brand and protecting it from competitors. It identifies for the consumer the origin or source of the goods or services.

A trademark can be any word, phrase, symbol, design, or a combination of these things that identifies your goods or services. It’s how customers recognize you in the marketplace and distinguish you from your competitors. The word “trademark” can refer to both trademarks and service marks. A trademark is used for goods, while a service mark is used for services.

Some examples of trademarks are:

  • Product names and nicknames (for example, both Coca-Cola and Coke are marked)

  • Logos

  • Sounds (like the distinct NBC chimes)

  • Business names

  • Slogans (like Nike’s “Just Do It”)

A trademark gives you the exclusive right to use your mark and helps prevent competitors from using a mark that’s the same as or very similar to yours. A trademark also provides legal protection for your brand and helps you guard against counterfeiting and fraud.

You become a trademark owner as soon as you start using your trademark with your goods or services. However, simply using a name, logo or slogan in your business does not give you strong or nationwide rights. You need to register your trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to get the most benefits.

Registering your trademark with the USPTO:

  • Creates a public record of your trademark ownership

  • Prevents other people from registering trademarks that are deceptively similar to yours

  • Gives you the right to sue in federal court if someone infringes your mark

  • Makes it easier to register your mark in other countries

  • Can be used to stop the importation of goods that infringe your mark

  • Gives you the right to use the registered trademark symbol, ®13

To register your trademark with the USPTO, you need to follow these steps:

  • Conduct a comprehensive search to make sure no one else is using or has registered a similar mark for similar goods or services

  • File an online application with the USPTO and pay the required fee

  • Respond to any requests or objections from the USPTO examiner assigned to review your application

  • Wait for approval from the USPTO and publication of your mark in the Official Gazette

  • Monitor and maintain your registration by filing periodic statements of use and renewal applications

The process of registering a trademark can take several months or even years depending on various factors such as complexity of your mark, similarity with existing marks, oppositions from third parties etc. Therefore, it is advisable to consult an experienced trademark attorney who can guide you through each step and help you avoid common pitfalls.

A registered trademark is an asset that adds value to your business. It helps you build customer loyalty, reputation, goodwill, and market share. It also gives you peace of mind knowing that no one else can use or copy your brand without facing legal consequences.

If you want to learn more about trademarks and how they can help your business grow, contact us today to set up a consultation.