Many businesses miss the salient points of trademark and just settle on obtaining the license to operate and business registration. A trademark refers to any name, word, logo, symbol, design, or phrase that a company or business uses to assign a distinguishing feature or identity for goods or products, making a difference from competitors. Having a trademark immediately brings recognition to your customers who sees it. For service providers, service marks are used, while physical goods or products use trademarks. Trademarks are different from patent, wherein patent provides protection to inventions, whereas copyrights are used to protect original literary pieces and artistic works.
It is important to register the trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to protect your business and your brand and to prevent others using them. By registering your business’ trademark with United States Patent and Trademark Office, you can gain privileges and benefits. These would include public notice of the business’ claim of ownership of the service mark or trademark; legal presumption of the ownership of the business of the trademark; exclusive rights to use the trademark in the United States and other countries where your products or services are sold; rights and abilities to brings actions in federal court on any matter that concerns the trademark; and include your trademark to the listings of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. You need to maintain your trademark as long as you file and submit all post registration maintenance documents.
The trademark registration process includes preregistration, mark selection, the application form, and evaluation period to verdict. To make your mark eligible, there are two basic requirements that your mark needs to meet including its usage in business and not for personal use, and your mark should be unique or distinctive. When it comes to distinctiveness, there are four categories which include distinctiveness including arbitrary or fanciful (inherently distinctive mark), suggestive (treated the same way as arbitrary or fanciful), descriptive (acquired a secondary meaning in the perceptions and minds of the public), and generic (not protectable). When choosing a mark, it is important to consider the format of the mark, the good and services that the mark will be applied to, and the availability of the mark. There are design marks, word marks, shape marks, sound marks, and color marks, wherein color marks are more difficult to register since you need to submit substantial proof of acquired distinctiveness, and the logo rendered in color.
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