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Trademark Law

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trademark_lawA Trademark is a mark that is used for the purpose of distinguishing wares or services. A trademark distinguishes your wares and services from those of your competitors and is easily identified by members of the general public or those within your industry.

Trademark Protection

Trademark rights begin as soon as a mark is used. This protection is generally limited to the geographic area in which the actual use is taking place. To obtain protection throughout the United States, a trademark must be federally registered with the U.S. patent and trademark office. This requires use of the mark in commerce, which may be regulated by congress, generally comprising interstate and international commerce.

Types of Trademarks

There are many types of trademarks, such as:

  • Service Mark - Rather than promoting a product, the service mark promote a particular type of service.
  • Trade Dress - A product is sometimes known for it's special packaging, or trade dress.
  • Collective Mark - A collective mark is a symbol, word, or phrase used to identify a group, organization or association, and the products, services or members of the group.
  • Certification Mark - A certification mark is a symbol or name used to guarantee the quality of another's service or product.

Purpose of Trademark Law

Trademark law is designed to protect the consumer's goodwill, which merchants develop through the use of trademarks and service marks. This goal is achieved by preventing would-be infringers from using similar marks, which could confuse consumers into thinking that these goods or services originate from the original mark owner. A mark thus safeguards the owner's reputation in the marketplace as well as the value of the owner's advertising dollar.

Trademark rights are obtained from actual use of a mark or from the filing of an application, which can be filed with our attorneys help, at the USPTO (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office). An application may be either an intent-to-use application or a use in commerce application (for trademarks and service marks already in use).

Trademarks are generally distinctive symbols, pictures, or words that sellers affix to distinguish and identify the origin of their products. Trademark status may also be granted to distinctive and unique packaging, color combinations, building designs, product styles, and overall presentations.

It is also possible to receive trademark status for identification that is not on its face distinct or unique but which has developed a secondary meaning over time that identifies it with the product or seller. The owner of a trademark has exclusive right to use it on the product it was intended to identify and often on related products. Service-marks receive the same legal protection as trademarks but are meant to distinguish services rather than products.

The Trademark Registration Process

  1. Your attorney will perform a trademark search to determine whether the mark or name has already been registered or whether the mark or service infringes on a mark or name which has already been registered. The trademark applicant may now begin using the mark or name with the T symbol.
  2. Your attorney will prepare and file your trademark application.
  3. Approximately one to two months subsequent to filing, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will acknowledge the filing of your trademark and your attorney will obtain the serial number for the application.
  4. Approximately six months subsequent to filing, the USPTO will review your application and determine whether your trademark infringes upon an existing mark. The Trademark Office will consult with your attorney regarding possible changes, which may need to be made.
  5. Approximately eight months subsequent to filing, the USPTO will publish the proposed mark in the Official Gazette. Trademark holders may file objections to the proposed mark at this time.
  6. Approximately ten months subsequent to filing, the USPTO will issue a Notice of Allowance. At this time the applicant must file the Statement of Use and/or begin using the mark or name in commerce.
  7. Approximately twelve months subsequent to filing, the USPTO will approve your trademark. The trademark applicant may now begin using the mark or name with the ® symbol.

A Trademark attorney can advise you on how to handle certain situations such as receiving a cease and desist letter. A cease and desist letter is written when a party believes their trademark is being infringed upon. A cease and desist letter must be evaluated by a trademark attorney who will provide you with trademark assistance.

The deadlines and regulations for trademark registration are detailed and strict. An attorney can help you meet all the deadlines and fulfill all the requirements. A lawyer can also participate in on-going research to make certain no one else is using or diluting your trademark without your permission.

CONTACT A TRADEMARK ATTORNEY IN YOUR AREA

If you are in need of legal advice or services, or simply wish to speak to an attorney who has successfully handled Trademark Litigation in your state, you may use our Free Online Consultation Form.

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