A trademark lawyer at Gehres Law Group can provide you with insight into how best to protect your company’s intellectual property. Today, intellectual property is often among the most valuable property that acompany owns. It is vital that you understand the different kinds of protections that are available, and that you follow the appropriate process for securing protection of your intellectual property as soon as you begin operations. In particular, it is essential that you understand the rules for trademarksand copyrights.
Trademarks and Copyrights
Trademarks and copyrights both protect intangible property that most companies own. However, thesedifferent types of intellectual property protection offered by the federal government protect very different things:
- Trademark registration protects identifying marks, logos and names
- Copyrights protect original creative works
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office provides an example of how the different kinds of protections are used to secure a company’s property, based on a company that has invented a vacuum cleaner. If a business invents a vacuum cleaner, a patent would protect the design and operation of the vacuum, copyright would protect creative marketing material used to sell the vacuum, and a trademark would protect the brand name that the company uses on the vacuum cleaner.
One real-world example of valuable trademarked property is the famous “LV” trademark that belongs to Louis Vuitton. As Tech Dirt explains, Louis Vuitton has been aggressive about protecting its trademarks, filing numerous lawsuits including against the manufacturer of a joke tote bag that said “My Other Bag is a” and then included a representation of a bag with the distinctive LV symbols on it.
While Louis Vuitton has not been successful in all lawsuits that the company has brought for trademark infringement, the incredible value of the LV markings (which can turn a simple purse or bag into something worth thousands of dollars) demonstrates the strong importance of a company’s ability to protect its distinguishing marks. The LV’s that Louis Vuitton is so famous for are recognized throughout the world, so the company must have the abilityto protect these distinguishing marks.
What Can Your Company Trademark?
Your company can, and should, trademark identifying marks, words or phrases that are associated with your organization and that distinguish your business from others. Your company is permitted to register a trademark as long as it is:
- A unique identifying symbol or phrase that distinguishes your brand or organization from others.
- Not likely to cause confusion with an existing registered trademark owned by another party. When assessing the similarity of trademarks and the likelihood of confusion, the US Patent & Trademark office considers whether the trademark is a phonetic equivalent (i.e. whether it sounds like an existing registered mark), the meaning of the mark, the appearance, the design elements, and whether the mark conveys a similar meaning and produces the same mental reaction as existing registered marks. If an existing mark is similar to yours, the US Patent and Trademark Office will also determine whether you will be providing similar goods or services to the company with the existing registered mark. The goal is to determine the likelihood that a consumer would become confused about the source of goods or services.
- Non-generic: You cannot trademark a generic word, like “Bicycle” for your bicycle store. As the US Patent and Trademark Office explains, generic words are “never registrable or enforceable against third parties.”
It is important to officially trademark identifying names, phrases and symbols associated with your organization. Naming your business and using that company name is not sufficient to provide you with ownership and protection of that name. Click here for the Top 10 Reasons to Register Your Trademark.
If you register the name of your company in states where you conduct operations or if you incorporate your company under the name you have chosen for the business organization, neither of these actions will establish trademark protection. You must officially go through the federal registration process to secure protection for your trademark.
Getting Help from A Trademark lawyer
Gehres Law Group provides personalized assistance with all aspects of intellectual property protection. We can take action to help your company trademark its identifying marks and slogans, and we vigorously pursue trademark litigation on your behalf if someone is improperly using your trademark without your company licensing that mark.
To find out more about how a trademark lawyer can help you, give us a call at 858-964-2314 or contact us online today.