From a legal standpoint, a trademark is defined as any symbol or word that a company uses to define their products. These symbols and words will serve as the product’s representation or identity in the current marketplace. Service marks are also used in the same manner, for companies who need to readily identify the services that they provide to the general public.
There are certain methods for trademark application that must be adhered to and there are also several different that a company/business can federally register.
A trademark is applied when a company wishes to differentiate the goods and services that they supply from the rest of the marketplace. Trademarks are one of the most valuable marketing tools available to companies who are just starting out.
Trademarks are created so that a business does not have to live in fear of having their ideas stolen by would be competitors. Once a trademark has been successfully obtained, another person is prevented from offering any good or service that bears a striking similarity to the one you are currently providing.
Any failure to register your company’s trademark could allow someone to profit off of your ideas and decide to apply for a trademark of their own. Once this takes place, you are prohibited from using the trademark, even if the idea was yours to begin with.
Logos and trademarks can fall under the same category, but trademarks are often used in a manner that is completely separate from a company’s logo.
Trademarks are corporate symbols, meant to contribute to a company’s brand and the image that they intend to build. Trademarks can be comprised of a combination of shape, font and color. Or, to use McDonald’s as an example, a simple match of shapes and color.
When filing for a trademark, be sure to remember that the trademark and the trade name are very different from one another. Trade names are used to identify the business, whereas a trademark is used to identify the actual product.
Knowing the difference between a trademark and the other types of mark is also important.
The 4 Types of Marks:
Trademark: These are used to identify a company’s products and deter against any sort of creative infringement.
Service Mark: Follows the same principle as a trademark, but is instead used to promote a service.
Collective Marks: Used by various associations, in order to properly identify themselves.
Certification marks: These marks are less about identification and more abo
ut certifying a product and ensuring that it reaches the proper manufacturing standards of third party regulation groups.
Knowing what a trademark is and being aware of trademark laws are two key factors in a business’ ability to reach its full potential. If you have any further questions, speak with a licensed trademark attorney as soon as possible.