The United States Trademark Office receives 60,000 applications each year. That means approximately 5,000 entrepreneurs and existing companies attempt to register part of their brand name or a product name to prevent the competition from using it.
Although you must register a company name if you do business under any other name than your given name, the same law does not apply to trademarks. However, obtaining a trademark can be a profitable business move. It lets other companies know to take your business seriously and sends a message to customers that you care about your offerings enough to protect them.
Defining a Trademark
A trademark is something unique to your company or one of its products. The athletic shoe company Nike, for example, has trademarked the phrase “Just Do It” while social media giants Facebook and Twitter have trademarked their famous logos. Obtaining a trademark means that your company has exclusive rights to use the mark or phrase in marketing copy and for identification purposes.
What Is the Likelihood of Confusion?
One of the first questions a trademark office employee considers is whether it is easy for consumers to confuse the item you want trademark protection for with something else. The person or department granting the trademark considers whether the average consumer would know the difference between the item up for trademark protection and a similar item. This includes knowing which company manufactured each item.
Distinguishing Goods and Services
When deciding whether to grant a trademark, the intellectual property office looks at whether the item up for trademark protection is a good or service. The distinction matters since products of the same name are fine if they are in different categories. The Dove chocolate bar and the Dove soap bar are two prime examples. Before you request a trademark, it’s always a good idea to run a search to see if any other company or product already has the name or phrase. While that doesn’t necessarily make it off-limits, it’s good to have this information going into the process.
The above represent just three of several factors trademark offices consider with every new application. Please contact Kasher Capital with additional questions.