Your business is more than its product or service. People build companies based on shared values and standards. There's a certain feeling and mindset that people enter into when they use your product. For instance, Jeeps may draw consumers seeking adventure and exploration. Businesses use words, phrases, symbols, and designs to convey everything we have just mentioned directly to the consumer.
When you see the Apple logo on a laptop box, you know what you are buying, who made it, and the quality of the product. The Jeep and Apple logos have significant value because of how much they can communicate instantly. Even if every Jeep magically disappeared, the logo still holds tremendous value because of how loyal people are to the brand. When people see the logo, they have a sense of what they are receiving.
Using Protected Marks
Suppose that a car company began creating cars that mimicked Jeeps, but they were inferior. However, this company made their cars with Jeep's logo on it. Not only would that company profit from using it, but they would also damage the reputation of the company they were stealing from. Trademarks prevent this from happening, so on February 13, 1943, FCA US LLC (a North American automaker in Auburn Hills, Michigan) filed to make the word “JEEP” a registered trademark.
How to Register a Trademark
Trademarks are a means to protect your intellectual property, and an experienced attorney can work with you to determine if you use the mark and how to register it appropriately with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This is the only way your mark can legally use the ® symbol.
The first step is to determine whether the mark you want to register is strong enough. For example, if you intend to build cars and want to call your company “The Car Dealership,” your application would likely be denied. Too many other people use that term already. Generic marks, such as “The Car Dealership,” aren't unique enough to become registered trademarks. The strongest marks are fanciful marks (a logo or name that differs from anything else that currently exists) and arbitrary marks (a well-known word used arbitrarily). The term “Rolex” is a fanciful mark because the word didn't exist before the watch company began using it. Although the word “apple” is widely used, it doesn't have any direct ties to computers, which is why it is a prime example of an arbitrary trademark.
Your attorney will also research whether the mark is used by someone else and if it closely resembles a previously-protected trademark. Although the USPTO will do this, your attorney will search state and business name databases. When the uniqueness of your mark has been determined, your attorney can file an application with USPTO, which they review (which could take several months) before approving. If they deny your application, they provide you with a letter explaining why. Then you can provide any additional evidence in response to it.
Lastly, if you successfully apply for a trademark, you must continue using it. A registered trademark lasts for 15 years, but you may continue to renew it if it is still being used. You will also be required to prove to the USPTO every few years that the mark is active.
Protect Your Intellectual Property With Hamilton Law
The attorneys at Hamilton Law will work with you throughout the application process. If the USPTO has any issues with your application, we will also address those. Our business litigation team will also defend you if another party infringes on your protected mark. If you have additional questions or are ready to speak to one of our lawyers, contact Hamilton Law to schedule a free consultation.