Trademarks are used to differentiate one company or product from another. A trademark must be distinctive and not be confusingly similar to existing trademarks in order to be protected. The resemblance between the trademarks acquired via the USPTO Trademark Filing procedure and the goods or services they identify is used to determine the possibility of confusion. For example, if you tried to use “Apple” as a computer trademark, you would most likely cause confusion with Apple Computers Inc.’s well-known brand name because they both describe items offered in the same market: computer software and hardware. In addition to being different and avoiding customer misunderstanding, your mark must include a number of additional characteristics in order to properly protect your company’s identity.
A trademark is a term, phrase, symbol, or design that identifies the origin of products or services. It may also be the look of a product or its packaging, including size, shape, colour, texture, graphics, and appearance, as trade dress.
For example, if you were selling gorgeous mini-marshmallow delights with sprinkles on top and calling them Mallow Puffs®, your business name would be protected by trademark since it has grown unique enough for customers to identify the term with your brand.
Trademark protection is not meant to shield your company from competition. Trademark protection is meant to keep others from using a confusingly similar mark, not to keep others from producing or selling the same products or services under a clearly different mark. For example, if someone sold “McDonald’s” hamburgers at their deli, they may face a trademark infringement lawsuit. However, if someone established a deli next door and named it “McBurger,” they would most likely not be infringing on McDonald’s trademark because there is no risk of misunderstanding between these companies.
Trademarks used in interstate or international trade may be registered with the USPTO.
You can, for example, file a trademark if you run an online t-shirt business that offers bespoke t-shirts to consumers all over the country. When filing for a trademark, submit the following information: a description of your business (e.g., “I sell t-shirts”)
A description of the items or services you offer (for example, “I sell custom printed t-shirts”).
The mark (for example, “My company name is [insert business name]”)
The type of goods or services for which you want to be registered
A federal trademark registration provides several benefits, including notice to the public of the registrant’s claim of ownership of the mark, a legal presumption of ownership throughout the United States, and the exclusive right to use the mark on or in connection with the goods or services specified in the registration.
It’s vital to realise that federal registration isn’t necessary to use a trademark in commerce. The Lanham Act also states that if an applicant wishes to avoid infringement by others, he or she may register his or her mark by filing an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
The Principal Register houses all federally registered trademark applications and registrations. The Supplemental Register is a secondary register for marks that do not meet the requirements for registration on the Principal Register. Registration on either the Principal Register or the Supplemental Register confers extra rights and benefits; nevertheless, registration on the Supplemental Register is less expensive and may be acceptable for some marks but not others.
For example, if a company name that has been used consistently since 1985 is registered on the Principal Register, it will be able to claim priority back to 1985 by submitting a “statement of use” during the application process (see below). If, on the other hand, a business name is only eligible for registration on the Supplemental Register due to its lack of distinctive character from other already existing marks, no declaration of use will be allowed when applying for such protection because declarations require prior federal trademark rights as opposed to mere state-based common law rights that are available for indefinite duration regardless of whether or not an applicant has actually used them.
The US trademark filing procedure at the USPTO is a great asset to your company. It informs customers and other companies that you have made an investment in safeguarding your brand name, and it grants you exclusive rights to use that mark.