Hamilton Law Blog

Trademarks: A Fundamental Component Of Running A Business

Posted by Philip E. Hamilton, Esq. | Apr 06, 2023 | 0 Comments

Apple's trademark is worth almost $30 billion. Before you dismiss the concept of trademarks because your business isn't as big as Apple, we want to point out that this company registered its first mark in 1979—just a few years after it was started by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne. On January 2, 1981, Apple shares sold at 0.1200. By the end of 2021, they had increased to 179.0167. Regardless of your size or aspirations, trademarks are a part of doing business. 

One of the pitfalls that we see entrepreneurs run into is seeking patents when they need trademarks. Patents protect new inventions, processes, and scientific discoveries, and trademarks cover slogans, branding, logos, and phrases. To put it loosely, a patent could be used for some (or all) of the components that made up the first smartphone, whereas the trademark covered the timeless logo on the back of it. 

Why Do I Need One?

You won't appreciate how many trademarks we see daily until you stop and consciously think about it. For example, take a look at the following two trademarked colors. Try to associate companies with one or both of them. 

The one on the left is Pullman Brown, and the right is Tiffany Blue. In 1998, “UPS Brown” became a trademarked color. To highlight their power, Tiffany's used to run full-page ads featuring almost nothing but their color. Trademarks protect anything that draws attention to the brand and the product itself. This is why the trucks have a specific sound, the drivers wear brown suits, and even the style of the truck is unique. These very deliberate actions make a product or service stand out. (Fun fact: There is no reason for insulation to be pink; it's part of the overall branding behind the product.)

For example, can you paint your trucks brown if you begin a delivery service? It depends. UPS has the right to prevent anyone from using a brown delivery truck because it may draw upon their brand.

Trademark rights are acquired by usage. You must use your mark in commerce or business. In fact, you get those rights as soon as you begin using your mark—but they are limited. Using a mark without registering protects you in your area of commerce but is confined to a geographical location. However, the more you use your mark, the better your chances are of getting your trademark application approved. Registering allows you to challenge those who use your trademark in some way. 

Take the Next Step with Hamilton Law

The skilled and experienced attorneys of Hamilton Law can assist you with selecting a mark, researching it, submitting the trademark application, and maintaining it. The registration process can take several months to a year to complete, so contact us today and schedule your free consultation

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