3 Primary Elements of Trademark Law
Copyright and trademark attorneys represent a diverse range of clients from numerous industries, including entertainment, literary, software and internet services, and advise these clients on methods to protect their interests in trademark and copyright registration.
Because trademark and copyright law is such a complex legal area – and because it is imperative that businesses protect themselves and their assets – trained intellectual property law attorneys work within a scope of related legal areas to help clients establish and defend their future prospects.
What is a Trademark?
According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), a trademark is:
“any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination, used or intended to be used to identify and distinguish the goods/services of one seller or provider from those of others, and to indicate the source of the goods/services.”
In short, trademarks are the elements of a company’s marketing and branding. The trademark system allows for businesses to register their distinct brand, and protect that distinctiveness.
Trademark Clearance Search
Developing a unique name for a product or service isn’t always easy, but the fact that a business owner thinks the name is unique doesn’t mean someone somewhere hasn’t already thought of, and trademarked, the same concept.
When it comes to trademarks, the court system does not take ignorance as an excuse. If a business infringes on an existing trademark, however innocently, the financial losses can be dire. Not only is the infringing company usually required to pay all of the trademark holder’s legal fees, but often the court will award damages. In addition, the infringing company may be forced to destroy all products bearing the trademarked material.
A business can protect itself from this situation by hiring a qualified intellectual property lawyer to conduct a trademark clearance search, and – more importantly – analyze the results. Within the results of just about any trademark clearance search there will be similar trademarks, and it takes a specially trained eye to sift through those results and determine which material is safe for a business to use.
Once a business has determined that their concept is safe to use, the next step is even more important: protecting that concept by registering a trademark. Usually, the business’s intellectual property attorney handles the bulk of this filing.
The completed paperwork is forwarded to the USPTO, where it is reviewed, and the trademark is either accepted or rejected. In most cases a thorough trademark clearance search conducted by a qualified intellectual property law attorney can help a business avoid rejection.
Even in a clear-cut case, however, the process is complex, often taking several months or more and involving multiple filings. Still, most businesses find it worthwhile to undertake this process with the assistance of an intellectual property lawyer.
Once a business acquires a trademark, it is important to monitor and defend the distinctive branding that has been created. The USPTO may issue and oversee trademarks, but uncovering cases of infringement is the responsibility of each individual business.
Should a business discover a case of trademark infringement, the next step is to inform the USPTO and begin taking legal steps to stop the infringing company’s activities and remove offending materials from the market.
Icard Merrill’s Intellectual Property Law department boasts skilled litigators who prosecute as well as defend trademark disputes at the state, national and international level.
Looking for an Intellectual Property Law Firm?
Whether you are beginning the process of filing a trademark, looking to defend an existing trademark, or in need of defense in a trademark infringement case, contact our intellectual property attorneys for skilled, qualified representation.