The question is: should I register my trademark? It would be helpful to know what a trademark is and the purpose of trademark law, along with other things that belong under the jurisdiction of intellectual property law.

A trademark can be one word, a slogan, symbol, design, or combination of all these traits. The purpose of a trademark is to identify and distinguish the services or goods from others that are available for purchasing. Trademark law or the word "trademark" refers to the same intellectual property law, which includes collective marks, service marks, certification marks, trade name, and trade dress.

The Importance of Trademark Law

The importance of trademark law is to help the potential customer distinguish competing products from the others, and it is to protect the product source's reputation. By using trademarks to identify certain services or products, the customer has the assurance that when buying a certain service or product with a specific trademark, it can be counted on. Even though the trademark identifies the source of the service or product, that source can also be the selling source, the manufacturing source, or the source of authorization or sponsorship when referring to universities.

If the holder of a trademark has expended time, energy, effort, and money offering a service or product to all customers, he or she is entitled to protect his or her investment by preventing other people from illegally using his or her trademark and profiting from the investment. The value of the trademark determines the good reputation that is associated with services or products that it represents and its source, and it is the customer who determines this value by continuing to buy this service or product.

What is the Difference Between Trademarks, Copyrights, and Trade Names?

The trademark is a specific identifier of commercial services or products. The holder of a trademark is authorized to use it in interstate commerce and necessitates ongoing use in commerce to keep ownership of it. The trademark holder's rights are not limited as long as it is properly and continuously used and protected by the holder.

Trade names or business names identify businesses for non-marketing reasons. Non-marketing applications of trade names are on bank accounts, stock certificates, invoices, contracts, and letterheads. Trade names can also double as trademarks when they identify specific services and products.

Copyright protects original, individual works of expression. It doesn't protect slogans or single words but protects creative designs such as a logo, which would also receive protection by trademark law. The copyright holder has legal ownership rights from 50 to 100 years, which depends on the terms the individual chooses to own the copyright.

Marks that Get Trademark Protection

Trademark law gives great protection to distinctive marks that are extraordinary. Different types of unique marks include:

  • Peculiar logos (the Nike® swoosh)
  • Not real words (Kodak®)
  • Imaginative marks, words that present a whimsical image (Airstream® for motorhomes)
  • Capricious marks, words that are amazing or unexpectedly used (Apple® for computers)
  • Suggestive marks, words that describe the traits or qualities of a service or product (Contact® for adhesive shelf lining paper)

Words that are ordinary, or without much uniqueness, don't receive as much trademark law protection unless they have established public recognition because of long use or good reputation in the marketplace, and these kinds of marks have gained an alternative meaning. Ordinary marks are considered to be ordinary words that provide the ordinary description of the service or product and are not qualified for trademark law protection.

Further Questions About Trademark Registration

If you have any further questions concerning trademark registration, you can seek the legal advice from a knowledgeable attorney with intellectual property law experience and who is licensed to practice law in the United States. The lawyers of UpCounsel.com will assist you in understanding this type of intellectual property law and help you decide what is best for your business and you.

Post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace to ask any legal questions concerning how the registering of your trademark can impact your business. UpCounsel has the most knowledgeable and experienced lawyers on its staff who are ready to assist you with your legal needs. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers, coming from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law, having an average of 14 years of legal experience, which includes working with or on behalf of companies such as Stripe, Twilio, and Google.