A trademark is a term that stems from the intellectual property field, where other terms that you may have heard of include “copyrights” and “patents”. To name a few, a trademark can be given to either a design, symbol, word, or phrase. Its main aim is to identify the source of your products as well as distinguish them from other companies’ products.

The word ‘trademark’ is often used to refer to both trademarks and service marks (a trademark for a company that provides services). Now, you may be wondering what can be registered with a trademark label? Basically, the general idea behind it is to distinguish your business from other brands. Hence, the creations that are predestined to become a trademark can include: 

  • Product name 
  • Business name
  • Logo or label
  • Symbol or design
  • Sound 
  • Product package

For example, think of the Coca-Cola brand and its products. Their trademarks consist of the word ‘Coca-Cola’ written in a stylized writing script, and the original curvy ‘Coca-Cola’ bottle design.

Types of Trademark Protection

There are three different types of trademark protection. This includes: 

1) Common law trademark protection

Trademark protection comes from using a mark in commerce to identify the source of your business’s goods or services. Even if you have never officially registered it, your trademark will be given a common law trademark protection. This type of protection may last for as long as you continue to use the mark.

2) State trademark registration

State trademark registrations are governed by state law, and the requirements for this will vary from state to state. 

3) Federal trademark registration

A federal trademark registration lasts for 10 years and is possible to renew for additional 10-year periods.  

With trademark protection, you will be able to prevent others from using your mark. However, before that happens, you need to be able to prove that you used it first. In addition, your rights may be limited to the geographic areas where your business operates. 

Trademark vs. Copyright vs. Patent: What are the differences?

The object of protection constitutes the difference between the terms trademark, copyright, and patent. While copyright protects an original work of authorship (written material, a photograph, a drawing or a song), a patent protects an invention. When it comes to taking action, copyright protects the right for people to reproduce, perform, distribute or display a piece of work. On the other hand, a patent gives the right for people to produce and sell an invention.

Have another view, an anecdote that you would like to share, or just a question for the author? Feel free to comment below!

in Branding Definitions
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