Trademarks Intellectual Property

Trademarks intellectual property is an important concept for you to be aware of if you want to protect your mark. For example, if you have an invention that you want to patent, you may also have a name for your invention that you want to be trademarked.

While trademarks are a type of intellectual property right, so too are patents and copyrights. Intellectual property (IP) specifically refers to inventions that are owned by an individual or business, and therefore, protected under the law. IP includes inventions such as products, types of services, creative works, designs, logos, symbols, brand names, etc. Depending on the type of invention, you will either want to get it patented, trademarked, or copyrighted. Some inventions can obtain a patent over the invention as well as a trademark over the name. The overall intent of IP rights is to foster innovative approaches and assist inventors in publishing their works for the public to see, purchase, and use.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are IP laws the same in every country?

IP laws do vary from country to country; however, the approach of IP is the same worldwide. A patent, trademark, or copyright in one country will generally protect you in all other countries. This is due to the collection of treaties that are administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

2. What is common law trademark protection?

Once you start using your mark, you now have common law protection. This is, of course, only if no one else is currently using it and if it isn’t already protected by a trademark. While you will have common law protection over your mark, you will still want to register that trademark to earn the full protection it deserves. For example, having common law protection may not stand up entirely in an infringement suit if someone else registers the same mark you’re using – assuming you haven’t registered it.

3. What does a patent protect?

A patent protects an invention that is both new and non-obvious. In order to be new, the invention must not already be used or protected by a patent. To be non-obvious, it must be something that is unique and useful. The non-obvious element is generally used for machinery, electronics, and computer algorithms.

4. How long does it take to patent an invention?

The process can be time consuming, lasting up to 2 or 3 years before obtaining the patent.

5. What does a trademark protect?

A trademark protects a brand, logo, symbol, etc. The scope of the trademark protection falls only within one industry, meaning that a perfume company can call one of their perfumes “Adidas” and not infringe upon the name for the popular shoe company.

6. How are trademarks protected?

You’ll register the trademark at a national or territory level, a process than can take up to 18 months to complete.

7. Is my trademark protected worldwide?

This varies depending on the country you have protection in. If you have a registered trademark in the U.S., UK, or Japan, then you are protected only in that country. However, if you have protection in Europe, you’ll have a Community Trade Mark (CTM), meaning that you are protected in all European countries.

8. What is the difference between TM and R symbols for trademark purposes?

The TM symbol is to be used for all unregistered trademarks or trademark pending applications. The R is only to be used if you have successfully earned protection over your mark.

9. Is there a distinction between a trademark and service mark?

Yes. A service mark is provided for services that have protection. Further, the symbols are different. For trademarks, you’ll use the TM symbol. For service marks, you’ll use the SM symbol.

10. What does a copyright protect?

A copyright protects creative works, including books, music, poems, and other artistic works. Once you create the work, it is immediately protected under common-law unless you publish it online or enter into a licensing agreement. Copyright is an automatic international right.

If you need help with registering your trademark or searching prior trademarks, 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.