The laws and regulations that govern trademarks are incredibly complex and often difficult to understand without the help of a knowledgeable attorney. While trademark law is an ever-evolving field, there are certain fundamental things that everyone should know about it. Here are five things to keep in mind when it comes to trademark law.
1. Distinctiveness Is Key
In order for a trademark to be eligible for protection, it must be distinctive. This means that it must be identifiable as a source of goods or services. It must also be unique and not likely to be confused with any other existing trademarks. The best way to ensure that your trademark is distinct is to create an original design or slogan that is easily recognizable. This will make it more likely to be approved by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
2. Trademarks Must Be Used in Commerce
In order to obtain trademark protection, the trademark must be used in commerce. This means that it must be used in the sale or advertising of goods or services. The use can be as simple as placing a label on a product or displaying the mark on a website. If a trademark is not used in commerce, then it cannot be enforced and thus cannot be protected.
3. Registration Is Not Necessary to Gain Protection
It is important to note that a trademark does not need to be registered in order to gain protection. Common law rights are available to those who use a distinctive mark in commerce. It is important to note that registering a trademark does provide additional benefits, such as the ability to enforce the mark in federal court and the ability to use the ® symbol. Therefore, registration is beneficial and recommended.
4. Trademarks Can Be Renewed
Trademarks can be renewed every 10 years in order to maintain protection. During the renewal process, the owner of the trademark must prove that the mark is still being used in commerce. This is done by providing evidence of use within the 10-year period prior to the renewal. If the trademark is not being used in commerce, then the renewal will not be granted.
5. Trademarks Can Be Licensed
Trademarks can be licensed in order to allow another party to use the mark. This is beneficial for businesses who wish to expand their reach without having to create a new brand. When a trademark is licensed, it is important that the agreement include provisions to maintain control of the mark. This includes provisions such as quality control and approval of the use of the mark.
Trademark law is an intricate and ever-changing field. It is important to be aware of the key aspects of trademark law in order to protect your brand. This includes understanding the requirements for distinctiveness, the need to use a trademark in commerce, and the ability to renew and license trademarks. With the right knowledge, you can ensure that you are doing all you can to protect your brand.