You may have heard the term ‘trademark’ bandied around forever—but perhaps not quite understood the nuances between that and other intellectual property. This is common for most of us, but the distinctions become apparent quickly when you start thinking about applying for protection of a mark that represents your brand.
Trademarks Apply to Your Brand
Trademarks apply directly to your business, while copyrights protect different forms of artistic work such as literature, movies, music, and even software and architecture. If you have invented something, as in a product or a process, you may want to apply for a patent. Trademarks are generally represented by logos or symbols, and they tend to draw customers to you over time due to their familiarity with your trademark as your brand continues to be marketed (quite heavily in some cases, depending on your business). Service marks, a subset of trademarks, may also be registered. The difference between a service mark and a trademark is that the service mark represents what your company offers to the public. Rather than just an emblem or a picture that reminds consumers who you are, the service mark tells them, with a slogan or short catch phrase.
Registering Your Trademark Protects Your Business Further
And while it is true that as soon as you create a trademark or service mark it is yours—and should be uniquely yours, registering it with the United States Patent and Trademark Office gives you more power to sue another party should they attempt to steal your mark or infringe on your design or company slogan. While such protection may not seem vital in the beginning, and you may feel like you have too many other things that are more important to deal with, taking care of your intellectual property could prove to be incredibly valuable later—not to mention saving you time from going to court or battling with another entity who has their eyes on your logo or slogan.
Once a trademark is approved (this could take up to a year), it is usually good for ten years and can be reinstated in ten-year increments. If you have intellectual property that you suspect needs protection, speak to a skilled intellectual property attorney as soon as possible. This will help steer you in the right direction regarding what type of application or registration is appropriate for your business, as well as helping you to streamline the whole process and make sure you are protected in the case that legal recourse was necessary.
Contact Us for Help!
The Bolender Law Firm can assist you in all intellectual property matters. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!