The Importance of Trademarks in Protecting Your Brand

Trademarks are often among the most important and valuable assets of a business. A distinctive trademark allows a business to build public goodwill and brand reputation in the goods or services it sells.

A trademark is any word, name, slogan or symbol (or any combination thereof) that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. Similarly, a service mark is any word, name, symbol or device (or any combination thereof) that identifies and distinguishes the services of one party from those of others. A trademark or service mark can be a word, logo, slogan, package design or other source indicator (or a combination thereof), or any other cognizable thing that serves to indicate a particular source, good or service.

For example, NIKE is a word mark for shoes, the TONY the TIGER design is a logo for cereal, THE ULTIMATE DRIVING MACHINE is a slogan for automobiles, and the COCA-COLA bottle is a package design mark (also called trade dress) for soft drinks. MCDONALD’S and GIBSON’S are both service marks for restaurants. Even a sound, smell, color, color combination or a shape can be a trademark under certain circumstances. For instance, the color pink has become a well-known trademark for insulation used in building construction, the color brown has become a service mark for package delivery services and the sound of certain chimes representing the notes G-E-C has become a trademark for NBC, a television broadcast company.

Trademarks are a property asset, similar to real estate, that can be bought, sold, licensed (like renting or leasing) or used as a security interest to secure a loan to grow your business. One of the mistakes made by companies is believing that registering the trademark or business name as a domain or company name offers the same protections as a trademark. However, registering a company or domain name will not prevent a third-party from using a similar or identical name. Furthermore, until a trademark has been registered at the federal level, it is possible that a competing business may claim it for their own use.

Businesses of all sizes should develop a strategy for trademark protection to properly protect their brands. Our firm has a great deal of experience obtaining trademark rights for our clients, and we are happy to assist with any new or existing brand protection.




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