Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Trademark 101: What Isn’t a Trademark?

Source

Yesterday’s post was all about what a trademark is so today we’re going to talk about what a trademark is not. Knowing both sides of that coin will give you a clear idea if a trademark is right for you or not.

Let’s use yesterday’s examples as a jumping off point:

·         PEACE is the name of your new clothing line and your logo is the peace sign. Both of these things appear on the tags that are attached to the clothing items. You have a variety of designs and sayings that appear on the front of your clothing items, e.g. the front of a t-shirt.

·         LOVE is the name of your daycare services. Your slogan, Love blooms here, appears on the web site, the brochures for new parents, the signage inside & outside of the facility. There are also multiple heart designs, created by you, used in your advertisements.

·         HAPPINESS is the name you use for your invention, a new kind of food processor. You have stacks & stacks of technical documents explaining how your invention works and every page has the name at the top.


POSSIBLE TRADEMARKS:
NOT A TRADEMARK:
PEACE
Name & heart logo as shown on the tags
Designs & sayings on the front of the clothing
LOVE
Name; slogan since it identifies the services and is used in the offering of those services
Multiple heart designs
HAPPINESS
Name of the food processor
Technical documents

So why are those items not trademarks? The main reason is that none of them identify the source (i.e. the origin) of the goods/services. Let’s do the breakdown explanation you all know by now that I love.

PEACE has a number of designs and sayings that appear on the clothing items, e.g. the front of a t-shirt. These items do not identify the clothing brand itself. They are merely decorative or ornamental.

LOVE uses a bunch of unique heart designs in their advertisements – billboards, leaflets, newspaper ads, etc. – but these designs are not used on the web site, the signage, etc. In other words, clients wouldn’t refer to these heart designs when looking for this business.
-          These designs may be eligible for copyright protection. We’ll get into that area of intellectual property at a later day.

HAPPINESS is the name at the top of the technical documents, which is not the good to be sold (i.e. the food processor) but rather is the technical explanation of how the good works. If you’re looking for a food processor, you’re not going to look for the technical mumbo-jumbo.
-          These technical documents would be part of your patent application. Again, we’ll explore that another day.

I hope this quick primer helps explain what a trademark is AND helps you decide if going the trademark route is right for you.


And if you’re still not sure, leave a comment or drop me a line – shannon at tmexpress dot com

Monday, April 24, 2017

Trademark 101: What is a Trademark?

Source
Welcome to the first day of class! Before we get into the nitty gritty of trademarks, let’s go back to the beginning. And the beginning of the beginning is defining what a trademark is and what a trademark is not.

Here’s what the USPTO says: “A trademark is generally a word, phrase, symbol, or design, or a combination thereof, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. A service mark is the same as a trademark, except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than goods.”

So, that’s clear, right? Mmhm, thought so. Let’s simplify this a bit.

First things first, we’re going to use the word trademark regardless if we’re talking about a business that sells products (i.e. goods) or services. Keep that in mind please.

Simply put, a trademark protects names, logos, or a combination thereof that are used for goods and/or services. Let’s break that down even further using examples:

·         PEACE is the name of your new clothing line and your logo is the peace sign. Both of these things appear on the tags that are attached to the clothing items. You have a variety of designs and sayings that appear on the front of your clothing items, e.g. the front of a t-shirt.

·         LOVE is the name of your daycare services. Your slogan, Love blooms here, appears on the web site, the brochures for new parents, the signage inside & outside of the facility. There are also multiple heart designs, created by you, used in your advertisements and on t-shirts worn by staff.

·         HAPPINESS is the name you use for your invention, a new kind of food processor. You have stacks & stacks of technical documents explaining how your invention works and every page has the name at the top.

What do you think could be a trademark? What isn’t?


POSSIBLE TRADEMARKS:
NOT A TRADEMARK:
PEACE
Name & heart logo as shown on the tags
Designs & sayings on the front of the clothing
LOVE
Name; slogan since it identifies the services and is used in the offering of those services
Multiple heart designs
HAPPINESS
Name of the food processor
Technical documents

As you can see, the common denominator for those possible trademarks is that (1) they are names or logos or slogans and (2) are used to identify the source of the products (i.e. goods) and services. This last point is often a sticky wicket for folks. Let’s break these examples down even further to differentiate the source from the goods/services created.

PEACE and the logo identify the source (the clothing line) of the goods (the individual clothing items with the designs & sayings on them)

LOVE and the slogan identify the source (the daycare) of the services. In other words, that’s the name & slogan of the business.

HAPPINESS identifies the source of the tangible good (the food processor). This is the name that will be on the product itself, the tags, labels, packaging, etc.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about what a trademark is not and, furthermore, how the examples of non-trademarks can be protected.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

And we're back!

Source


Hello there readers!
The blog has been on a bit of a hiatus as we revamped our site (check it out - nice, eh?) and while I specifically re-focused my day-to-day activities.
But, I'm back and am here to talk trademark and answer any questions. Have one? Leave a comment or send me an email - shannon at tmexpress dot com
Since it's been awhile, I thought it a good idea to go back to Trademark 101 so that's what we're going to do. Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be going back to the beginning and outlining the basics of the basics.
The trademark world and the USPTO don't change in leaps and bounds but there have been enough significant changes that it's worth going over these essentials.
So, thanks for reading & here we go!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

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So, you finally settled on the perfect name for your product or service – that's fantastic! Finding just the right name is vitally important to the success of any product line or service.

Or, perhaps, we've already searched & filed a trademark for you. If it's been a couple of years, have you had protective research conducted? Do you have a logo or a slogan or a new product/service name?

Regardless if you're new to the world of trademarks or have already gone 'round once, let's walk through a quick primer. Protecting your brand is a vital part of your overall business plan.

Trademark Step-by-Step Primer

1) Is it required that I register my trademark?

No, not at all. However, registering your trademark, specifically your Federal trademark, does provide you with several advantages:

* Public notice of your claim of ownership of the mark;

* A legal presumption of your ownership of the mark and your exclusive right to use the mark nationwide on or in connection with the goods/services listed in the registration;

* The ability to bring an action concerning the mark in federal court;

* The use of the U.S. registration as a basis to obtain registration in foreign countries;

* The ability to record the U.S. registration with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Service to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods;

* The right to use the federal registration symbol ®; and

* Listing in the United States Patent and Trademark Office's online databases.


2) But what if someone else already came up with that name?

While the name may be unique and distinctive to you, there is a possibility that another party already has prior trademark or common-law rights to the name for your industry. Before you invest time, money and effort into your name, you need to have comprehensive research done, which will tell you if the name is truly available.

3) Ok, so the name is clear; now what?

To register your trademark, you have 2 options – file for a Federal or a State trademark.  If you are only going to sell your product or services in 1 state, then a State trademark is the way to go.

While anyone has the ability to go online to access these forms, it's strongly recommended to hire a private company or an attorney for the preparation and/or filing of the trademark application.  To ensure a successful filing, it's best to leave it in the hands of those with experience.

Contact us today & we can take care of all of your trademark needs.

4) You found the perfect name – now, make sure it's truly yours!

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Monday, December 08, 2014

Beware of Official-y Correspondence



Once you get that trademark filed be aware that your information is of public record, which means, unfortunately, some will mine that resource & some of those folks will send you solicitations. 

These solicitations often look very official, and "may use names that resemble the USPTO name, including, for example, one or more of the terms "United States," “U.S.,” "Trademark," "Patent," "Registration," "Office," or "Agency."  

Some will even have documents that resemble actual government documents rather than what you'd expect a company to send and this is often done by "emphasizing official government data like the USPTO application serial number, the registration number, the International Class(es), filing dates, and other information that is publicly available from USPTO records."

Most of these are asking you for money. That's your major warning flag.

"All official correspondence will be from the “United States Patent and Trademark Office” in Alexandria, VA, and if by e-mail, specifically from the domain “@uspto.gov.”

If you did receive something that you're not too sure about go ahead and forward it to me - shannon at tmexpress dot com - and I can confirm if it's official or not.

Read more about what the USPTO has to say about this here.


Thursday, December 04, 2014

IP Webinar Series: December 9-11th





"The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will co-host a free webinar series to help business owners understand the intellectual property process, starting on Tuesday, December 9.

Register today!


This three-part webinar series will provide participants with insightful tips for success on getting a patent or registering a trademark or copyright."
The trademark webinar takes place on December 11th, 1pm-2pm EST. Register here.
I'll be there so "see" you on-line!

Monday, December 01, 2014

Hello Again!


It's been awhile but we are back! And as Mr. Waving Turtle up there indicates it has taken me a bit to get back here to the old blog watering hole (or wherever turtles congregate so I may continue the metaphor) but I'm here and ready to go so let's talk trademarks!

If you've got a topic you'd like addressed please comment and I'll be sure to tackle it in a future post. 

For today, I'll assemble a greatest hits list. This will provide a good overview of trademarks as a whole. You can also search the blog if you're looking for something more specific. And if nothing pops up then leave me a hey I wanna hear about this note in the comment section.

Trademarks - A Quick Introduction

- Aww, my 3rd post ever. It's an oldie but goodie. Plenty of basic info here.

What is a Trademark?

- What it is.

What is NOT a Trademark?

- What it isn't.

What's the deal with the © ® ™ symbols?

- While my Seinfeld-ian homage may have fallen flat the info in the post is gold, Jerry! Gold!

Is it Possible to Search my Trademark for Free?

- Spoiler Alert! It ain't but finding out why is handy to know.

What is a Trademark Search?

- aka what does it mean when a search is comprehensive?

Do You Need a Registered Trademark?

- Maybe. Maybe not. Read on to find out.

How to Know When to Trademark your Logo

- Got a cool logo? You may want to think about protecting it.

Trademark a Name and Logo: Together or Separate?

- The filing costs shouldn't be your only consideration here.

Brainstorming Tips for Creating a Business Name

- You've got the business but don't know what the heck to call it. Check out this post for some tips.

Starting a Business Series

- For many, many posts I wrote up on starting business in all kinds of different industries and included general business start-up knowledge to more specifics, such as associations, books, and articles.