Trademarks – What Business Owners Need to Know
Trademarks and copyrights are an important way to protect the company’s brand and intellectual property you’ve worked so hard to build. We asked our colleague, attorney Abby Remore of CSG Law to give us some tips to help business owners protect their brand assets. In this first article Abby shares what you need to know about trademarks.
A trademark is a source identifier, such as a brand name or logo, used to distinguish one party’s product or service from another’s. When developing a new trademark, businesses should try to come up with a strong, unique and distinctive mark, as it will be entitled to broader protection.
In the U.S., trademark rights are acquired by use
The first person to use a mark in commerce has priority. So, after coming up with a distinctive trademark, but before starting to use it, businesses should ensure the mark does not infringe on the prior rights of others by conducting a clearance search.
Just looking for exact matches is not sufficient to clear a mark
Courts and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office look at whether there is a “likelihood of confusion” between marks. A similar mark used in connection with similar goods and services could be enough to create a likelihood of confusion. Consider consulting with a trademark attorney who can conduct a clearance search and help evaluate risks.
Businesses should seriously consider obtaining federal trademark registrations for their trademarks
Doing so grants several benefits, including nationwide priority and protection, constructive notice of ownership and helpful presumptions in case of a dispute. For businesses looking to expand overseas, a U.S. registration can often be used as the basis for an international registration. Assuming they are properly maintained, TM rights last as long as the mark is still being used.
Stay tuned for our next blog post where we will share information regarding copyright protection for your business.