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What is a Trademark and When Do You Need One? Trademark Tips, FAQs, and Help

9869182_mA trademark is a very easy way to protect your business’s brand, logo, slogan, or other intellectual property.  How do you know if you need a trademark and whether it will benefit you? If you are not sure whether you need a trademark or not, or how it can help your business, the guide below should give you a few tips.

What is a Trademark?

A trademark is a type of protection that helps consumers distinguish between one company’s products, services, slogans, or designs versus another’s.  The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office allows individuals and businesses to trademark phrases, logos, packages, products, services, or other slogan to identify their uniqueness and prevent others from using the same mark.

What is the Benefit of Having a Trademark?

A trademark benefits the trademark owner by giving the individual or business a limited monopoly to use the particular logo, phrase, or slogan in connection with their products, goods, or services. For example, Pepsi is a trademark, and that mark cannot be used by any other person or business without violating Pepsi’s trademark protections and  federal and state trademark laws. Because trademarks can be considered valuable, they are considered assets of the business that can be sold, assigned, or even leveraged as collateral for loans.  Trademarks will also help protect valuable brand-name recognition from being misappropriated by competitors.

What does a Trademark Accomplish?

A business or individual who obtains a trademark will be able to exclusively use the mark that is being trademarked in the trademark class in which it has been trademarked.  The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office maintains numerous classes, which are simply categories, for different types of businesses or uses.  For example, having a trademark in class 35 (which governs advertising activities for service providers) is different than having a trademark in class 21 (which governs housewares). For a convenient summary of the classes, please check out our Trademark Classes FAQ.

Is a Trademark the Same as a Service Mark?

Trademarks and service marks are essentially the same, however, service marks are used in the sale of services, not products. Trademarks are used in connection with goods and products, which require good a product to be marked or stamped with the trademark. Service marks, do not have the same requirements, because there is no way to stamp or mark services.

What’s the Difference between a Trademark, a Copyright, and a Patent?

Trademarks primarily protect logos, phrases, words, slogans and similar verbal or visual expressions. Copyrights, on the other hand, protect original works of authorship, such as art, music, videos, sculpture, computer programs, designs, or other creative works. Patents, however, protect inventions, which can consist of utility inventions (how something functions) or design inventions (how something looks).

Where is a Trademark Effective?

If an individual business obtains a U.S. trademark, it will be effective throughout the U.S. However, the United States is a member of the Paris Convention, which is an international treaty that protects trademarks in all countries who are also signatories. The date that a US trademark is registered will carry over into registrations in other countries in future filings, and this is important because the registration date is often very important when it comes to determining who gets to use a mark if there’s a conflict over the same mark.

Need Help?

If you’re considering getting a trademark and need to know more about the process, timeline, and fees, please give us a call and will be glad to answer your questions.  Please give us a call at (213) 403-0130 for a confidential consultation.

 AXIS Legal Counsel represents clients in numerous infringement, trademark, copyright  and other similar types of intellectual property matters. For information on retaining AXIS Legal Counsel to represent you in connection with an intellectual property matter, contact [email protected] or call (213) 403-0130 for a confidential consultation. AXIS Legal Counsel serves clients throughout Los Angeles and California.   Our Intellectual Property Rights Practice helps clients protect their ideas, inventions, and works of authorship, to copyright, trademark, patent, and secure other intellectual property rights in products, goods, services, inventions, and works of authorship.  AXIS assists clients in applying for intellectual property protection as well as litigating disputes, including copyright litigation, copyright lawsuits, non-solicit agreements, non-competes, trade secrets, cyberlaw, intellectual property, trademark applications, trademark infringement, trademark litigation, trade secrets, intellectual property law, intellectual property litigation, cyberlaw, internet law, social media law, technology law, privacy law, fashion law, entertainment law, and numerous other types of intellectual property matters.


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