WHAT IS A TRADEMARK? A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, design, logo or combination that identifies the source of goods. WHAT IS A SERVICE MARK? A service mark is the same as a trademark except it identifies the source of a service.

As we know people are confused about TRADEMARKS, COPYRIGHTS, AND PATENT PROTECTION. Actually, they don’t protect same thing. Trademarks protect identification of a source of goods or services. Copyrights protect creative work book, movie, music etc. And patents protect invention.


Federal registration of a mark is not required before using the mark. However, it gives you certain legal rights. The FEDERAL REGISTRATION OF A TRADEMARK gives you:

1) The right to use the Circle R registration ® next to your trademark. Use of the Circle R without actual registration is a crime.

2) A legal presumption you own and have exclusive rights to use your mark in the USA for the listed goods and services. This means in any lawsuit the other side has to prove otherwise.

3) Public notice of your claim of ownership.

4) Ability to record your trademark with US Customs to stop counterfeit foreign goods.

5) Ability to bring a lawsuit in federal court for others using the same or similar mark for the same goods and services.

HERE ARE SOME TIPS TO KEEP THE FEDERAL REGISTRATION. After registration you have several duties to the Trademark Office keep the mark registered. The biggest ones are 1) Keep using the mark to sell the goods and services; 2) Pay the renewal fees every 1, 5, 10, 20, 30 etc. years. After registration you have several duties to keep the mark. Police the mark, make sure competitors do not use the mark to sell the same goods and services. For example, aspirin, videotape, dry ice, thermos, cellophane, linoleum used to be registered trademarks that became generic when the public and competitors used them to describe similar products.

Finally, some steps are required when FILING FOR TRADEMARK, which makes hiring an attorney to perform the complex steps highly recommended. If a new mark is going to be filed, an attorney can work with marketing to select strong trademarks that can be registered and protect a brand. Your attorney will perform a search for conflicting or similar marks and likely write a search report. The search will identify problems like a likelihood of confusion of your mark with prior registered marks or pending applications. This is the most important step; a non-attorney may be able to run a search but not have the experience to interpret search results.

An attorney can also select the proper scope of goods and services to file; select type of mark, type of use, and file the mark with Trademark office; argue with the trademark office attorney against any objections or rejections; select the proper specimen to file and show use of the mark as a trademark. The information provided here is intended for informational purposes only and not legal advice. For specific circumstances, please consult an attorney.


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