What is a trademark?
A trademark is a recognizable design, symbol, word or expression that distinguishes products of a particular source from those of other parties. They are one of the most common types of intellectual property, with the others being patents and copyrights. Trademarks that are used to identify services are called service marks, although the word “trademark” is frequently used in reference to both trademarks and service marks. Individuals, businesses or any legal entity can become trademark owners. You can trademark a business name, product name, logo, label, slogan and even sound. For example, The Coca-Cola Company owns the trademark to the name Coca-Cola, the bottle shape and the graphic representation of their brand. This allows differentiation between Coca-Cola and other cola producers and strengthens their corporate identity.
How to register a trademark
The process of registering a trademark for your business, product or service name depends on your geographical location. In the U.S. you must register your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Other countries will have their own agencies and legal requirements, so be sure to check relevant government websites for information.
Before you can begin, you should search the USPTO database of registered trademarks to check whether your mark is available. This means that your desired trademark hasn’t already been registered by someone else and isn’t similar in look or sound to another mark for the same categories of products or services you offer. Otherwise, it could create a likelihood of confusion. For example, if you purchase a lightbulb with the name Philips, you would expect the product to be from the same source - the multinational company Philips - and of the same quality.
The benefits of registering for a trademark are manifold. It ensures that other companies will not have a similar mark, provides legal protection against anyone who infringes upon it and gives you exclusive rights to operate and market under the registered trademark. These are must-haves for anyone starting a business to sell a product or offer a service. Once you’ve registered your business and trademark, you can sell your trademarked product or service online with the help of a business website template.
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What are the different types of trademark symbols
Trademark symbols are used to provide notice of a claim by companies. The three most commonly known symbols are Circle R (®), the trademark symbol, ™, and the service mark, ℠.
The registered trademark symbol, ® is reserved for those registered with an appropriate government agency, while ™ and ℠ are symbols used for unregistered trademarks. Using unregistered trademark symbols after your name or logo lets competitors know that though you haven’t formally registered, you have claimed that mark as your own. Additionally, most companies selling services will also opt for using the ™ symbol over the service mark for simplicity and convenience.