Any word, phrase, symbol, design, or combination of these things that distinguishes your goods or services can be used as a trademark. It's how clients recognize you and tell you apart from your competition in the marketplace. The first trademark was back in 1876 where Bass and Co Brewery created a logo for their pale ale and this logo went on to become Britain's first trademark.
A trademark is beneficial because it protects the consumer by always promising the goods or service and upholding the same quality if your trademark is on it. This contributes positively to creating a positive and loyal rapport between the consumer and owner. Some other reasons why you would need a trademark is that it reduces misunderstanding and separates products from other competitors, this in turn can generate more income for your company. Trademarks can supersede languages and is the first line of communication with your consumers, your trademark speaks for your product before the consumer has time to further research or investigate your product. This can make your product memorable, when your trademark transcends language and straight into appealing to your consumer’s senses.
Things that cannot be trademarked include a name or likeness of someone without their permission, generic terms or phrases, scandalous words, government symbols, etc. An example of a failed trademark is when Kylie Jenner filed to register her name ‘Kylie’ as a trademark and could not succeed. When you trademark a logo, phrase, symbol, etc. you don’t need to worry about the possibility of being sued and forced to rebrand. You own the rights to the trademark. You can use a symbol with your trademark every time you use it. The symbol informs consumers and competition that you are claiming ownership of the trademark. For commodities, you can use "TM" and for services, you can use "SM." However, for you to use the registered R symbol you would need to register your trademark. Registering your trademark can be done with The US Patent and Trademark Office, USPTO.
The process for registering your trademark can take anywhere from 7 months to 2 years to complete. 7 months is assuming no office action or appeals have taken place. It starts off with choosing your unique mark, generic ones aren’t always successful. After you've decided on a registration mark, you'll need to get ready to submit an application. Your application must be based on use in commerce, meaning if you’ve already started using the mark you must provide proof of it. It can also be based in intent to use where you are intending to use the mark in the future. After you have sent in your application to the USPTO, an examining attorney is assigned to your case and if there are any discrepancies or confusions they will issue an office action which you will be given 6 months to respond. These office actions can happen again after your first office action, and after successful response and processing your trademark would be published.
Registration is not required for your trademark but it is recommended because you can get nationwide protection as opposed to only local. If someone wants to use your mark out of state, you would not be able to have it removed unless you have registered the mark. A trademark is needed to boost business profits and for the added value it can provide for you and the consumer.
Authored By: Vanessa Perez-Borge
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