Understanding the importance of trademarks to consumers is vital to your company's success. The International Trademark Association states that a trademark may be any name, word, symbol, slogan, package design, device, or any combination of them that identifies and distinguishes your product from other products in the marketplace.

The Trade Marks Act of 1999 defines a trademark as a mark that can be graphically represented and distinguished from other services and products. Your trademark can convey emotional and intellectual messages, as well as attributes about your company's reputation, services, and products. Simply put, your trademark identifies your brand.

Obtaining a Trademark

In addition to protecting a business's brand, trademarks laws were also designed for consumer protection. With businesses responsible for any item that bears their trademark, the care and pride they take in their products increase.

Obtaining or creating a brand is an important step. Completing due diligence before making the investment of time and money to launch a new brand is important. Be positive the brand fits your company's values and message. You will also want to complete a clearance search to confirm your potential brand is available and not infringing on anyone's prior rights.

Making the mistake of not researching a brand before adopting it can lead to your application for registration with the USPTO being denied, or even the brand owner sending you a cease and desist letter.

Importance of Trademarks

Trademarks are distinctive marks that assist consumers in identifying and choosing the products they prefer or services that have a positive reputation. A mark can be a:

  • Shape of goods
  • Label
  • Brand
  • Word
  • Packaging
  • Signature
  • Combination of colors
  • Any combination of the items listed.

Your trademark makes finding you, and distinguishing you from your competitors, easier for your clients. Your trademark helps establish your brand and makes your business, services, and products stand out. When customers see it, they know who you are, know your reputation, and hopefully will not look for alternatives to your business.

A trademark can also help you use social media and the internet as a whole more effectively. Having customers enter your brand or registered business name into social platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Instagram helps your overall SEO rankings and can bring more site visitors to your website and social media pages.

Difference Between Unregistered and Registered Trademarks

The main difference between registered and unregistered trademarks is that registered trademarks serve as statutory remedies while unregistered trademarks are common law remedies. When trying to claim registered trademark infringement, you just have to establish that the violating mark is misleadingly close to the registered trademark. Trademarks that are unregistered can still be protected if the goods and services have an exceptionally important position in a specific class of goods and services.

It is not required by law that you register a trademark, but it definitely is considered a best practice by experienced entrepreneurs. By registering your trademark, potential investors may be more intrigued with your business. A registered trademark can act as a valuable asset for your business.

As an entrepreneur, you retain exclusive rights in marking your services or products with your trademark. This allows you to gain consumers and maintain a positive reputation while delivering quality products and services. You will also have legal support in the case of copyright infringement or counterfeit products as your trademark will establish products as yours.

Function of a Trademark

A trademark offers these basic four functions for your business:

  • Identifies business origin
  • Provides quality assurance
  • Improves marketability and publicity
  • Helps you establish your reputation within the market.

Trademarks are inexpensive to obtain, with the United States Patent and Trademark Office charging as little as $275 for initial trademark registration and a couple hundred dollars after five and 10 years.

Your trademark will never expire as long as you use it with U.S. businesses. They are considered perpetual as long as you renew the trademark rights by filing a declaration of continued use and paying USPTO fees. Many recognizable trademarks have been in business for more than a hundred years, such as Mercedes (1900) and Pepsi-Cola (1896).

If you have questions regarding the importance of trademarks to consumers, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law, and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.