The United States Patent and Trademark Office defines several characteristics of a trademark:
- A trademark identifies and distinguishes a product or service against other similar goods or services
- A trademark illuminates the source of a good or service
- A trademark can involve a word, name, symbol, device or combination of these elements
If you are a business, you know how much a trademark can set you apart from your competition. But it is important to properly establish a trademark in order to ensure that you do not infringe on the legal rights of others and so that your own legal rights are protected.
If you are considering establishing a trademark, you should contact your personal attorney or an attorney who specifically focuses on intellectual property law. An attorney who specializes in intellectual property law can help you with the following steps of establishing and maintaining a copyright:
1. The Clearance Search: Your attorney will begin by conducting a trademark search to see if the name or symbol you have chosen is already taken by another company. An attorney can differentiate if trademarks similar to yours would cause your trademark to be rejected by the USPTO.
An already established trademark has legal rights- if you were ever taken to court for copyright infringement, you would have to pay associated legal fees, damages, and destroy any property resembling the infringed copyright if you were found at fault. The court system would require this even if you were unaware of the existing copyright-it is your responsibility to investigate all existing trademarks. Obviously, a skilled attorney can make quick work of this complicated process.
2. Registration of the Trademark: If your proposed design is truly original and doesn’t infringe on existing trademarks, your attorney can then begin the process of officially registering your trademark with the USPTO. The office either accepts or rejects your filing. The thorough trademark search completed by your attorney increases the likelihood that your trademark will be filed the first time.
Complications do occur, and even the most cut-and-dry filings can take many months and ample amounts of paperwork. An intellectual property law attorney who knows the ins and outs of the system can help navigate your filing to a successful completion without you having to bear the burden and stress of a complex legal filing.
3. Maintenance and Protection– The last goal of trademark law is to ensure that your trademark is monitored and protected from trademark infringement. If you come across an unregistered design that you think impedes on your trademark, you should contact your intellectual property law attorney. Your attorney can investigate and assess if the design truly infringes on your trademark and if you should seek legal action against the design in order to recover any losses and protect your trademark.
Establishing a trademark may seem like an overwhelming process, but it is a necessary one if you want to properly conduct business in the United States.