As trademark attorneys, we often get asked what the differences are between trademarks, copyrights, and patents. A trademark refers to a symbol, word or words, design, or sound used to distinguish the source of goods or services. Whereas copyrights protect the expression of ideas such as books, songs, and more. A patent protects inventions. At Larson & Larson, we can help you protect your intellectual property from theft.
Does a Trademark Have to Be Registered?
Under what is known as common law, a trademark has certain levels of protection without officially registering the mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. However it is important to note that an unregistered trademark is only protected if it meets the standards of Lanham Act. The only way to know if your unregistered mark meets the standards is to consult with a trademark attorney in St. Petersburg.
Benefits of Registering a Trademark
Registering your trademark provides more protection for your trademark rights. An unregistered mark is only protected locally; meaning if another business were to start using a similar trademark in your local market, you would have legal grounds to get them to stop. By registering your mark, you get nationwide protection. This means that no other company in the United States can have a trademark like yours. If you have a word mark, logo, or design that you wish to protect against infringement, you should consult with a St. Petersburg trademark attorney.
Types of Marks
Marks are afforded different strength levels based on their originality. Arbitrary and fanciful marks are the strongest, meaning they hold no obvious relation to the goods or services associated with the mark. An example would be a unique name that could not be found in the dictionary, or a word seemingly unrelated to what it’s being used to represent—such as “Apple” for computers.
On the other end of the spectrum you have merely descriptive marks that simply describe the goods or services. Merely descriptive marks can be registered on the Supplemental Register or on the Principal Register upon a showing of acquired distinctiveness.
Generic terms, common names for goods or services, are not protectable as trademarks.
Should You File for Registration?
If you have a unique word mark, logo, or brand that is specific to you, you should seek trademark registration. The trademark application can be filed for a mark that is already in use or for a mark that you have a bona fide intent to use in the future. If you want the highest level of protection against infringement, you should seek federal registration of your trademark, which is registered and governed through the U.S. Patent Trademark Office.
Why Hire Larson & Larson?
If you live in St. Petersburg and want to register your mark, your best course of action is to consult with a trademark attorney. At Larson & Larson, we will conduct a thorough trademark clearance search to find any existing marks that may pose a conflict for your registration. Once completed, we will assist with the preparation, filing, and prosecution of your trademark application.
By creating a strong strategy against infringers, and properly addressing all licensing or litigation matters, we can ensure you develop strong intellectual property rights. To learn more about this process, or to schedule an appointment with a St. Petersburg trademark attorney, give our offices a call today at 727-546-0660 or fill out our online contact form.