Trademarks, trade names and service marks are invaluable business assets. A trademark is any word, name or symbol that has been adopted and used by a person or business entity to identify the business’s goods, and to distinguish them from the goods of others. A service mark is any word, name or symbol that has been adopted and used to identify the services of a business and distinguish them from the services of others. Trademarks and service marks protect brand names and logos. As with many other companies, consumers can identify the goods and services of a particular business by becoming familiar with an established name or symbol. Trade names identify businesses and are discussed separately below.
One of the most valuable things you can do after you have organized your business is begin to carefully create a mark or logo branding or identifying the goods or services your business offers. The importance of marketing is without question and brand identification is a powerful and invaluable aspect of any business. Of course, any established brand or mark is subject to being used with permission from its owner. That is why we have trademark laws to help you protect what is your intellectual property (or your business). Essentially, protections have been created to prevent other businesses’ from “passing off” the goods or services of another or attempting to establish some false affiliation or sponsorship with some other business.
Registration of trademarks and service marks provides protection for names, logos and other symbols. Trademark protection is incredibly broad, as virtually anything that is used to identify and distinguish goods or services in the marketplace can be a trademark. Service marks receive the same protection as trademarks but are meant to distinguish services rather than products. Trademark and service mark registration can be a powerful and effective tool in protecting the interests of your business.
Not all marks can be registered under state or federal law. For example, marks that are either immoral, deceptive, falsely suggest connection with someone or some national institution, misdescriptive, or consist of the U.S. flag or any State or municipality won’t be eligible for registration under many State’s trademark protection laws. In addition, the USPTO won’t register any marks that contain:
- Names of living persons, unless they have given their consent;
- The U.S. flag;
- Other federal and local governmental insignias;
- The name or likeness of a deceased U.S. President, unless his widow has given consent; or
- Words or symbols that disparage living or deceased persons, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols;
- Marks that are deemed immoral, deceptive, or scandalous. (As a general rule, however, the USPTO takes a liberal view of the terms “immoral” and “scandalous” and will rarely refuse to register a mark on those grounds);
- Marks that are used only in one state.
Looking for affordable, flat-fee trademark registration done by an experienced trademark attorney? Register Your Trademark or Service Mark Now!