Trademarks – What’s in a name?

By Kelly Bagla, Esq.

Intellectual property law impacts every business, whether you know it or not. For example, the moment a name is used in relation to your business, your goods or services, certain trademark rights are created. Similarly, as soon as your website or other promotional materials are created, certain copyright rights arise. By arising automatically through everyday business activities, these basic intellectual property rights can become valuable assets of your business.

Unfortunately, these same everyday business activities can also create substantial legal headaches if the creation and use of your intellectual property is not handled properly. Your investment in a new company or product brand name could be wasted if your chosen name is not protectable as a trademark. Even more frightening, your new name could pose infringement risks and liabilities if not properly researched prior to implementation and use.

A trademark is any word, name, or symbol used in commerce to identify and distinguish your business, product or service. A trademark can be considered a business’s brand name and use of a trademark without permission can be considered infringement of the trademark holder’s rights. Trademarks are registered with and granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

The good thing about trademarks is that common law trademark rights can be created by simply using a name or logo as a trademark, such as using the mark to identify your business. Any time you claim rights in a mark, you may use the “TM” (trademark) designation to alert the public to your claim, regardless of whether you have filed an application for registration of the mark. It is the use of a mark that creates the common law rights. Broader protection may be available through other means and is usually advisable.

The bad this about trademarks is that this ease of creating trademark rights means that almost all businesses own trademarks making it very ease to inadvertently violate or infringe on the trademark rights of others. Such trademark infringement can be very costly for your business. Alternatively, your business may invest significant time and money in a name that you perceive to be a trademark, only to later discover that the name is not protectable as a trademark. Therefore, is it important to carefully consider, as early as possible, what trademark to use, both to ensure your investment is protectable and to avoid infringing upon the rights of others.

So why trademark your name, product, service or brand?

  • Trademarks are an effective communication tool with your customers
  • Trademarks make it easy for customers to find you
  • Trademarks allow businesses to effectively utilize the internet and social media
  • Trademarks are a valuable asset
  • Trademarks are inexpensive to acquire
  • Trademarks never expire

There are many considerations that you must think about before selecting a name and the filing for a trademark and seeking profession advise should always be your first step.

For more information on how to legally protect your business please pick up a copy of my bestselling book: ‘Go Legal Yourself’ on Amazon or visit my website at www.golegalyourself.com

Disclaimer: This information is made available by Bagla Law Firm, APC for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, and not to provide specific legal advice. This information should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.