Understanding Trademarks

A trademark is something that identifies your business as the source of the marked goods.  (Similarly, a service mark shows that your business provides the specified services.)

A trademark can be in the form of a:

  • Name or other word (such as Apple® computers)
  • Phrase (such as Nike’s “Just Do It” or Intel’s “Intel Inside”)
  • Symbol (such as the Apple apple or the Nike swoosh)
  • Logo (such as the IBM logo)
  • Image (such as the look of a building)
  • Design/Shape (the shape of an old-style Coca-Cola bottle)
  • Color (Cadbury purple for chocolates)
  • Smells (orange-scented fracking fluid)
  • Sounds (the roar of the MGM lion)

How a Trademark Attorney Can Help

There are lots of rules on what is and isn’t an appropriate trademark. If you don’t do your homework, your application can be denied — which wastes your time and money. In fact, 70% of trademark applications get initially rejected.

A trademark attorney can help you:

  • pick a mark that has a good chance of getting accepted by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)
  • search to see if someone else is already using the mark
  • fill out the trademark registration paperwork
  • deal with negative responses from the USPTO or other trademark registrants
  • explain how to use and protect your trademark once its registered (including the difference between ™ and ®)
  • comply with the formalities to keep your new trademark
  • fight to protect your mark from copycats

I’m licensed to practice before the USPTO and I represent trademark clients nationwide.