Updated: Nov 25
What is a trademark and what does it do?
One way to understand a trademark is that it is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of another party. A “service” mark distinguishes the source of a service, rather than a good, but the two are typically simply referred to as a “trademark” or “mark”. In more general terms, getting a trademark protects a brand. Many of the well-known brands, logos, and slogans you love, know and trust has been registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Generally, the registration of a trademark entitles the registrant to a presumption of ownership of the brand on a national level and a presumed right to use the brand nationwide. It may help prevent someone from registering a confusingly similar mark later and may also help the registrant bring a case in federal court if someone infringes on the brand. Once registered, a registrant can typically start using the ® symbol after the name, logo or slogan.
After a trademark is properly registered and used for a five-year period, Trademark Engine can also help file a “Declaration of Incontestability.” Considered by some the greatest protection under U.S. trademark law, this may help prevent others from contesting a trademark on the following grounds: (1) the mark is not inherently distinctive; (2) it is confusingly similar to another mark that someone else began using first; or (3) the mark is simply functional as opposed to identifying the source of the goods or services.
What’s the difference between copyright, patent and trademark?
A trademark generally protects a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that distinguishes the source of the goods -- what we think of as brand name and brand recognition.
A patent generally protects an invention, including the functionality or design, or in other words, “any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof.” 35 U.S.C. § 101. A patent typically gives the owner the exclusive right to manufacture products or employ processes covered by the patent for 20 years from the earliest priority date.
A trademark, if properly maintained, can last forever.
Copyrights, meanwhile, generally protect artistic works such as books, photographs, arts, movies and music.
Nineteen90 Business Consulting is not a law firm and none of the information on this website constitutes or is intended to convey legal advice. General information about the law is not the same as advice about the application of the law in a particular factual or legal situation. Individual facts and circumstances as well as legal principles including but not limited to the ones referenced on this website can affect the outcome of any given situation. Nineteen90 Business Consulting cannot and does not guarantee that an application will be approved by the USPTO, that a mark will be protected from infringement under common US trademark law, or that any ensuing litigation or dispute will lead to a favorable outcome. If you want or have an interest in obtaining legal advice with respect to a specific situation or set of circumstances, you should consult with the lawyer of your choice.