Different Categories of Trademarks
By Gerard Simington
For many businesses, establishing a well-known brand is the key to success. Of course, you need to protect that brand and trademarks are part of the process.
A trademark is a form of intellectual property. You can trademark words, symbols, names, sounds and even colors that distinguish a product or service. A classic example is the Nike swoosh, a symbol that is well known throughout the world. Unlike patents and copyright, trademarks do not expire so long as they are used and, of course, you pay the United States Patent and Trademark Office to renew them!
When the word trademark is mentioned, most people think it is one thing. In truth, there are variations of trademarks. They differ in a number of ways, so let’s take a closer look.
We’ll start with a service mark. There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding the service mark. It is exactly like a trademark with one noticeable exception. As the name suggests, it applies to names, symbols and so on that identify a service instead of a product. This brings up an important point. The type of trademark for your situation is based on the underlying thing it represents.
The classic trademark is next. Again, we are talking about a symbol, word, name, sound and so on that identifies and distinguishes something in the consumer mind. In this case, we are talking about a product or products. Coca Cola is one of the dominant trademarks of all time. If the phrase is mentioned, you know exactly what it is referring to.
Both service and trademarks have some limitations. When you obtain a mark, it does not extend across all possible forms of commerce. Instead, you have to indicate what class of industry, commerce or business it should apply to. Ultimately, this means a business cannot hog a particular phrase. An example will make this clear.
The biggest online bookstore is Amazon. When talking about books or the internet, the mention of Amazon clearly leads you to think about their site. Does this mean there can be know other Amazon businesses in the world? Of course, not. There simply cannot be another online bookstore called Amazon. If I want to open an Amazon Travel business that sends people to the Amazon in South America, I am not going to have any problems.
All and all, trademarks are a fairly simple part of the law. If you wish to protect your products or services, you should definitely consider applying for the appropriate marks.
Gerard Simington is with FindAnAttorneyForMe.com - free daily legal tips.
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