A trademark is a symbol or sign that can distinguish your services or products for those of your competitors. It may be designated by several symbols including the TM (Trade Mark) and SM (Service Mark), as well as the Circle-R or the federal registration symbol.
Why Register a Trademark
Some people assume that they can protect their brand by simply using the symbol in commerce. However, there are benefits in registering a trademark instead of relying on the common law rights. These advantages include the following:
1. Ensuring exclusivity
When you register your trademark, you can obtain the legal exclusivity in using your logo or name in the business. Moreover, a registered trademark can reduce the risk of being prohibited from using your logo or name by other traders. Business owners are likely to encounter legal issues when they receive a letter of “cease and desist” from a lawyer, which require them to stop using the symbol that others already own.
2. Nation-wide coverage or protection
Those who register their trademark can obtain geographical coverage instead of rights that may be restricted to a particular area or region where they trade. Furthermore, business owners who have plans of expanding overseas may obtain rights even in other countries because of a registered trademark.
3. Preventing or deterring other traders from using your symbol
A registered trademark may serve as a constructive notice to the public of your ownership of the logo or symbol. In addition, the registrant has the freedom to initiate court proceedings or legal action for trademark infringement. This process prevents other traders from the unauthorized use of your symbol. A few countries including Canada and the United States recognize the common law trademarks, which allows a trader to take legal actions in protecting an unregistered symbol that is in use. However, the common law on trademarks do not offer much legal security, as compared to registered trademarks.
The term “trademark” includes any brand, name, word, device, label, pattern, or packaging that can be used to identify a company’s products and services from those of others. It may also be a phrase, logo, design, or a combination of all these elements. Furthermore, there is a range of marks that are considered unconventional because these do not belong to the standard categories. These marks may be based on sound, smell, or color of a product. There are also marks or logos that are popularly used in describing products instead of distinguishing the goods from other traders.
There are instances when a trademark may not be registered because of several factors. For instance, the symbol is not distinctive or may be offensive. Some logos may also be deceptive, which means they tend to mislead the public by making others think that the services or goods offered have a certain quality that are not evident in the product. Moreover, a mark is not allowed to be registered when it promotes illegal drugs or substances, and the logo includes images or words that may be against the law.