A Guide to Trademark Law

Trademark law has been implemented to protect a company’s brand in hopes of reducing consumer confusion.

A trademark is any word, symbol, design or combination thereof that is intended to identify and distinguish a good or service of one seller or provider from those of another. 

A trademark signals to the consumer the source of the goods or services from the name or symbol alone. If a mark can immediately signal a specific company to a consumer this will create a connotation that everything with that logo is of similar quality. Trademark law will then help encourage companies that would like to put their brand or logo on all of their products to make sure that they are all of the highest quality.

The Lanham Act mainly governs U.S. trademark law, which is a federal law passed by Congress. Additionally, state law or “Common Law” will govern trademark law on a more local level even if you do not register your trademark through the U.S. government. Both registered and unregistered trademarks are granted specific protections with their own advantages and disadvantages, respectively.

A trademark has three essential characteristics that must be met in order to have a valid trademark. The first is that your logo or mark must be distinctive. The second is that your mark must be non-functional or you should be filing for a patent. Lastly, a trademark must be first in commercial use.

Those are the essentials of trademark law in the United States, although different laws govern international trademark laws, you can find more information on UpCounsel about applying for and registering a trademark online.

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