An Introduction to Trademarks

By Gerard Simington

In marketing, there is a particular strategy known as branding. In many ways, trademarks are designed to protect your brand from use by others.

An Introduction to Trademarks

A trademark is a form of intellectual property. Intellectual property is owned by the person or business creating it. With practically all forms of intellectual property, however, you have to take steps to formally notify the world of your property and protect it.

A trademark is a distinctive mark used to identify a product, company, service or device. When you think about it, you are very familiar with trademarks. At the risk of being sued to the high heavens, the following are trademarks: Coca Cola, Pepsi, Google, EBay and Toyota. Each of these words mean something to you and are readily identifiable with a product or service in your mind. When you think of EBay, you immediately think of an online auction site that was originally created so the owner’s girlfriend could trade Pez dispensers [true]. When you think of Toyota, you think of cars. This is the power of brand recognition and trademarks are used to protect them.

A trademark is a powerful thing when it comes to the law. If you obtain a trademark, it is binding nationwide and others are not allowed to infringe upon it in an effort to swipe your customers or confuse the public. With your mark, you can sue to stop the infringement and recover monetary damages suffered. Basically, a trademark is a hammer for stopping nefarious conduct cold.

To obtain a trademark, you must have patience, patience and more patience. The mark is obtained through the Patent and Trademark Office. It is a very slow process. You or your attorney do a search to make sure are not in conflict with any previous marks. You then file an application and begin waiting. Within 8 weeks, the Patent and Trademark Office will send you a notification indicating they acknowledge receiving your application. Just receiving it! You will then wait another 6 months or so to hear if the application is accepted. Often you will receive correspondence asking for clarification or raising a problem. You then provide a response and wait. Months will pass. Eventually, the back and forth will come to final result. If your trademark application is accepted, it will be published and you are protected. The process is so lengthy that it is not uncommon for it take well over a year for the application to be approved. In short, you are going to need a lot of patience.

While obtaining a trademark can take forever, it is well worth the effort. Once you have it, you can keep competitors and others from using the trademarked term you worked so hard to establish.

Gerard Simington is with - an online trademark attorney directory.

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