Here are just a couple of examples. If there's something that you're not sure can be protected by a trademark, shoot me a line: Shannon@tmexpress.com
1) Trade Name
It can be easy to confuse trademarks and trade names so let's get into some detail here. "The terms 'trade name' and 'commercial name' mean any name used by a person to identify his or her business or vocation," is the USPTO provided definition.
Now, a name can be both a trade name AND a trademark. The USPTO determines this based on the specimen.
Here are a couple of examples to illustrate this:
a) "It is our opinion that the foregoing material reflects use by applicant of the notation 'UNCLAIMED SALVAGE & FREIGHT CO.' merely as a commercial, business, or trade name serving to identify applicant as a viable business entity; and that this is or would be the general and likely impact of such use upon the average person encountering this material under normal circumstances and conditions surrounding the distribution thereof."
This means that Unclaimed Salvage & Freight Co. did not or could not show how that name was creating an impression outside of being just the name used to conduct their services.
b) "'LYTLE' is applied to the container for applicant’s goods in a style of lettering distinctly different from the other portion of the trade name and is of such nature and prominence that it creates a separate and independent impression."
This means that Lytle Engineering & Mfg. Co. provided a specimen that clearly showed Lytle, alone, as being unique and distinctive from their trade name, Lytle Engineering & Mfg. Co.
When folks call asking how to protect their ideas, they're talking about this definition: "any conception existing in the mind as a result of mental understanding, awareness, or activity." This is worth noting because many people express confusion over the concept of ideas when it comes to intellectual property.
Let me provide a couple examples I've heard over the years.
a) "I've got this idea for a clothing line and want to protect it." Now clothing is clothing; there's really nothing new there. Yes, patterns can be unique from one designer to another. If that's the case, look into copyrights.
However, 9 times out of 10, what the person is really saying is that they have an idea based around a brand. This typically means they have a name & logo, which falls into the trademark category.
b) "I've got an idea for a new product." This as well as ideas to significantly improve an existing product is more than likely going to fall into the patent category.
Intangibilities cannot be protected but the various representations of your ideas may be protected be it with a patent, a trademark, a copyright or a combination of two or more.
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