A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination thereof, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. A service mark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination thereof, that identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than goods. The term “trademark” is often used to refer to both trademarks and service marks. A patent is a limited duration property right relating to an invention, granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in exchange for public disclosure of the invention. A copyright protects works of authorship, such as writings, music, and works of art that have been tangibly expressed.
The Law Office of Carolyn Christoffersen can assist businesses with filing for a trademark or copyright, and if you need a patent, we can refer you to an attorney who specializes in patents. Only the owner of the trademark may file an application for registration. The owner controls the use of the mark, and controls the nature and quality of the goods to which it is affixed, or the services for which it is used. The owner may be an individual, corporation, partnership, LLC, or other type of legal entity.
You can establish rights in a mark based on use of the mark in commerce, without a registration. However, owning a federal trademark registration provides several advantages, including:
- Public notice of your claim of ownership of the mark
- A legal presumption of your ownership of the mark and your exclusive right to use the mark nationwide on or in connection with the goods/services listed in the registration
- The ability to bring an action concerning the mark in federal court
- The use of the U.S. registration as a basis to obtain registration in foreign countries
- The ability to record the U.S. registration with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Service to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods
- The right to use the federal registration symbol ®
- Listing in the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s online databases.
Your brand name or logo is what distinguishes your business from your competitor’s business. The number one reason to register your trademark is the fact that the brand name or logo alone often can be considered an asset of your company.