What is a trademark? A Beginner ‘ s Guide

trademark law basics

Have you wondered if you should trademark your copyright? Wait, huh?

You are right to be confused because trademarks and copyrights are two completely different concepts. Today we’re discussing what a trademark is and why you need one in your business like yesterday.

What is a trademark?

So I said I would start with what is it, right?  A trademark is how a consumer identifies your products or services. It’s that something that your customer recognizes you for. It can be a:

  1. Name
  2. Logo
  3. Slogan
  4. Smell
  5. Packaging
  6. Color

Trademarks not only identify your brand, but also protect your brand. If one day your business goes viral, and you gain popularity, other businesses may try to use your brand likeness to take your customers. But if you have registered your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), there are repercussions for the business that tries to use your name.

What is the difference between a trademark and copyright?

A copyright protects an original work of authorship, including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed. Copyright protects your right to reproduce, perform, distribute or display your work or to create other works based upon it. Your work is protected by copyright as soon as it is created, but you can also register it with the U.S. Copyright Office.

What are the benefits of registering a trademark?

The Federal Lanham Act (17 U.S.C. §§ 1051 et seq.) protects a federally registered trademark. In order, to register, your product or service must be used in commerce. That means that you are selling your products/services. The USPTO must approve your mark, if you want protection under the Federal Lanham Act. If you do not have a federally registered trademark, then you will not have as much protection.  A couple of reasons to register your mark?

  1. The statute awards you if someone uses your trademark without your permission. This includes attorneys fees and costs associated with filing the infringement lawsuit.
  2. Use of the ® symbol, which stops others from registering a trademark that looks like yours. A registered trademark also serves as a basis for an international trademark application.

If you have a large following, a unique business, or investors, you need to trademark your business name, logo, or anything else that sets your brand apart. Approval may take up to a year or more, so the earlier you register, the better. A year is a long time to wait, and you want to be sure that there are consequences if someone is using your trademark without your permission.

Not sure if your business or product name is trademarkable? Snag this guide to find out how to create an exceptional and unforgettable trademark.

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