Trademark - Answers You Want To Know

By Chin Lee

A trademark refers to the protection provided by the law for any word, name, symbol or device that is original and new. There are several types of protective marks you can apply for and each one covers its own specific area for protection.

A trademark is the mark used to communicate that the product is both protected under trademark law and is the property of the mark owner. An example of a trademark would be the M symbol used for McDonald's products: Anything produced by them would display the symbol of protection and ownership which consumers now recognize across the globe.

The word trademark is often used to describe any kind of protected mark, but technically speaking it is only the mark itself that is used to distinguish the word, name, symbol or device from all others.

Service marks are like trademarks, accept they protect and distinguish services only. The symbol used to represent a registered service mark is “®”.

The name of the company or firm is registered and protected as a trade name mark. This doesn’t protect the services offered or any symbols used, so the relevant protected mark should be applied for to cover them. For example, Stacy’s Unique Massages would need to be registered as a trade name and the unique massage style would be registered as a service mark. In most cases trade names can only be protected if a corresponding service mark or trademark is also registered.

Another protected mark is a certification mark that protects seals of approval and goods from specific sources. Examples could be the Heart Foundations Seal of Approval and Bundaberg Rum, and both goods would require a certification mark.

If goods are being produced collectively by a group of owners, the protected mark required would be the collective mark. A group of artists producing posters under one company name would use a collective mark for branding and protecting their work, although the designers vary.

Other areas of trademark to consider when registering your company or goods are trade dress and product configuration, which refer to the packaging and shape. If your goods are uniquely packaged and originally shaped, you will want to protect the designs with a trade dress mark or a product configuration mark. If you are considering applying for one of these you should definitely do more research to understand the specifics.

Simply registering a trade name mark for the title of your company will not provide you protection over all areas of your business. If you are unsure about exactly what protection you need for your words, names, symbols or devices, it could be a good idea for you to hire a trademark attorney to look after the legalities for you. There could be nothing worse for an entrepreneur and inventor than believing you are fully protected only to discover too late that you didn’t have all your bases covered.

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