Trademark Questions Answered by a Top Trademark Attorney
Trademarks are an important tool for businesses and institutions that want to protect their brand. Federal law makes trademark protection available for a wide range of designs, symbols slogans, phrases, and other terms that identify a brand, products or services, and the right trademark attorney is needed to handle your claim with care.
At Glancy Prongay & Murray, our intellectual property attorneys have decades of combined experience helping people, businesses and institutions navigate intellectual property law. As a litigation firm, we can enforce trademarks in court, and we work with IP transactional lawyers who obtain trademark protection.
Trademark is a complicated area of the law that often raises a number of unique issues. The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about trademark law.
What is the Difference Between Trademarks, Copyrights and Patents?
Trademark protection applies largely to unique brand elements that help define a company or institution and the products or services that it offers. That often includes brand designs and slogans, as well as product and service names.
Copyright laws, on the other hand, protect creative works like literature, music, art, drama and other tangible forms of expression. That protection is available regardless of whether a particular work is ever published.
Patents are used to protect inventions, so long as they are novel, nonobvious and useful. That includes everything from pharmaceuticals and medical devices to household and other consumer products.
What Can be Trademarked?
Trademarks are meant to protect a variety of elements that make a brand unique. Certain designs, symbols, phrases and slogans are not eligible for that protection under federal law, however.
Trademarks are not available for generic terms and commonly used words. Terms, words and phrases that generally describe what the product does or what the service is often also are not protected, at least not right away. A trademark seeker has to use the word or phrase regularly and successfully enough that consumers specifically associate the mark with the entity or the good or service.
How Are Trademarks Awarded?
A business or entity seeking trademark protection can file an application to register the mark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, but it is not required to do so. The general rule is that the first to use the mark is has the right to it.
Should I Register my Trademark?
There are a number of good reasons to register a trademark with the Patent and Trademark Office.
The first is the deterrent effect. Registration puts other businesses and institutions on notice of the trademark and often is sufficient to keep many entities from challenging or infringing the protection.
In addition, a company with a registered trademark can also point to that registration when going after other entities that misuse or infringe on the trademark. If you have been using a trademark without registering it, you may be in for a legal battle if another entity seeks to register the same or a similar mark.
Do I Need a Trademark Attorney?
An entity seeking trademark protection is not required to have a lawyer in order to register the mark with the Patent and Trademark Office, but there are a number of benefits to legal representation.
A seasoned trademark attorney will understand what the Patent and Trademark Office often looks for when reviewing a registration application. The lawyer can also determine whether there are already existing trademarks that may prevent an entity from registering its own mark. In the event that others misuse or infringe on a trademark, the lawyer can enforce the trademark holder’s legal rights in court.
At Glancy Prongay & Murray, our law firm help businesses and institutions across the country. Give us a call or contact us online to speak with a trademark attorney today.