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Trademark 101: What Isn’t a Trademark?


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.

Name & heart logo as shown on the tags
Designs & sayings on the front of the clothing
Name; slogan since it identifies the services and is used in the offering of those services
Multiple heart designs
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


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