what is a trademark

A trademark is a distinctive word, symbol, or phrase that identifies a particular product and sets it apart from other similar products. These marks are a type of intellectual property and can be registered or unregistered. A strong trademark can offer several benefits, such as establishing a lasting emotional connection between a brand and its customers, as well as safeguarding a company and its products or services. However, many companies and individuals miss out on these benefits because they lack knowledge about trademarks and their potential.

What Is a Trademark?

According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a trademark:

  • Offers legal protection to your brand
  • Identifies the source of services and goods
  • Assists in guarding against fraud or counterfeiting

It is often believed that obtaining a trademark gives a person complete ownership of a word or phrase and the right to prohibit others from using it. However, this is a common misconception. In reality, a trademark only grants a person exclusive rights to use that word or phrase in association with their specific goods or services. These individuals do not have ownership of the word or phrase itself, and others may use it in different contexts as long as the context does not infringe on the individual’s rights. 

What Things Can and Cannot Be Trademarked?

A trademark, also known as a service mark, works to identify specific brands in conjunction with a good or service it offers. As a result, words, logos, slogans, abbreviations, numbers, letters, packaging designs, smells, and even sounds can be trademarked as long as they meet the appropriate criteria for eligibility.

In comparison, the things that cannot be trademarked include:

  • Generic descriptive words
  • Any mark already in use
  • Any mark that is too similar to another mark already in use
  • Commonly used messages or phrases
  • A direct religious passage or quote

To get trademark protection, a mark must be distinctive and not easily confused with an existing trademark. It is also important to avoid generic descriptions of services or products, as the more distinct the proposed mark is, the higher the likelihood of a trademark application being approved.

How Long Does a Trademark Last For?

A trademark can last for as long as a person or business continues to use it. However, these individuals could lose protection if they fail to enforce their rights.

Regulations indicate that a federal trademark registration will last for ten years and are renewable for additional ten-year periods. State laws typically govern state trademark registrations, and the requirements will differ depending on the state.

To Learn More About Trademarks, Contact Ardent Guardian Today

Although the United States Patent and Trademark Office has streamlined the process of obtaining a trademark, this process can still be challenging and daunting for many individuals and small business owners. That is why if you want to learn more about trademarks, contact Ardent Guardian today at 703-592-6774.

Our law firm offers the following types of legal services:

  • Entity formation
  • Contract services
  • Trademarks
  • General Counsel
  • Other legal services

Reach out to us today to learn more about these services and our pricing information.

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