What is a Trademark?

A trademark can be any word, phrase, symbol, design, or combination that identifies your goods or services. Customers use trademarks to recognize a company in the marketplace and distinguish it from its competitors.

The word “trademark” can refer to either trademarks or service marks. A trademark is used for goods, while a service mark is used for services.

A trademark identifies the source of your goods or services, provides legal protection for your brand, and helps you guard against people infringing on your brand.

A common misconception is that having a trademark means you legally own a particular word or phrase and can prevent others from using it. However, you don’t have rights to the word or phrase in general, only to how that word or phrase is used with your specific goods or services.

Why is Trademarking so Important?

You become a trademark owner when you use your trademark with your goods or services. You have common law trademark protection if you use it but don’t register it with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This gives you some rights in trademark, but those rights are minimal and only apply to the geographic area where you provide goods or services. That may be good enough for a small local business but may not be much help if you have a business with a nationwide scope or may want to expand in the future.

When you file a trademark or service mark, you file it in a specific class that covers the service or good you are trying to protect. If your trademark is approved, you possess exclusive rights to the words concerning the particular good or service in the class you file.

By registering your trademark with the USPTO, you gain several key protections. Those include:

  • Nationwide protection for your mark;
  • Recorded ownership of your mark in the USPTO’s database, creating a public record of your ownership and the date you began using the trademark;
  • The right to file a lawsuit in federal court to enforce your trademark rights if anyone uses your mark;
  • Registration creates a legal presumption that you own the trademark and can use it for the goods and services listed in your trademark application. This is helpful if you ever need to sue someone to enforce your trademark.

By trademarking your business name, you are protecting the most public portion of your business, your name, and your brand. That brand is one of the most valuable assets your company possesses. By filing a trademark application for your business name, you ensure that you have the full rights to that name, preventing anyone else from using or profiting off of your mark.

While an attorney is not required to file a trademark application, conducting an accurate clearance search and the application itself can be confusing for someone not familiar with the software and process. As such, retaining a law firm experienced in the area can significantly help prevent any issues with your application that may pop up. Here at Lengea, we are prepared to help you with all your trademarking needs. If you’d like to trademark your business name, logo, or slogan, please contact our firm to schedule an appointment. If you prefer to do it yourself, you can watch our YouTube video on the process below.


*This blog post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, financial, or medical advice or the forging of an attorney-client relationship. Please retain the services of an attorney to receive legal advice on how the law applies to your business. 

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