Rachael, Direct Incorporation Staff
What even is a trademark?
When creating your own business, you can trademark a symbol, logo, word, slogan, or a name registered to your company. This protects your image, and ensures that other businesses don’t infringe on the intellectual property of your business. If you don’t register a trademark, you could lose the rights to your own idea, artwork, and all of the creative energy you have spent on your name, logo, or slogan.
Why run a trademark search?
A trademark search is incredibly important, because if you’re looking to trademark a slogan, word, or logo that’s already in use, you could be sued for trademark infringement, which could lead to a big financial setback for your company, and you would have to restart your branding from scratch. According to the US Patent and Trademark Office, if a trademark owner is able to prove infringement, outcomes may include:
- A court order (injunction) that the defendant stop using the accused mark
- An order requiring the destruction or forfeiture of infringing articles
- Monetary relief, including defendant’s profits, any damages sustained by the plaintiff, and the costs of the action
- An order that the defendant, in certain cases, pay the plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees
This is the last thing you want to be dealing with when trying to start your own business, so it is imperative to clear the availability of your name, logo, or slogan before it is too late. You can conduct a registered trademark search here.
Registered vs. unregistered trademarks
A federally registered trademark is recognized everywhere in the country—examples include Nike and Coca-Cola—and have been registered through the US Patent and Trademark Office. An unregistered, or common law trademark, is usually enforceable only within the geographic region or locale where the trademark owner is using it in business.
Common reasons for refusal of trademark registration
There are 5 common reasons your trademark may not be granted:
1. Likelihood of Confusion
If there is a conflict between the mark in the application and a mark that is either registered or pending in the USPTO, the trademark will not be granted. This depends on both the similarity of the marks, and the relationship between the goods and services identified by the marks. Similarity in sound, appearance, or meaning may be sufficient to support a finding of likelihood of confusion
2. Merely Descriptive and Deceptively Misdescriptive
A mark will be deemed as merely descriptive if it solely describes an ingredient, quality, characteristic, function, feature, purpose or use of the specified goods or services. A mark will be refused as deceptively misdescriptive if the mark misdescribes an ingredient, quality, characteristic, function, feature, purpose or use of the specified goods or services.
3. Primarily Geographically Descriptive and Primarily Geographically Deceptively Misdescriptive
A mark will be deemed as primarily geographically descriptive if the primary significance of the mark is geographic, purchasers would be likely to think that the goods or services originate in the geographic place identified in the mark, or the mark identifies the geographic origin of the goods or services. A mark will be refused as primarily geographically deceptively misdescriptive if all the above is true, yet the goods or services do not originate in the place identified in the mark.
4. Primarily Merely a Surname
The examining attorney will refuse registration of a mark if the primary significance to the purchasing public is a surname.
The mark will be refused if the applied-for mark is merely a decorative feature or part of the “dress” of the goods. Such matter is merely ornamentation and does not serve the trademark function of identifying and distinguishing the applicant’s goods from those of others. An example of this would be a slogan on a shirt that does not directly identify the source of the goods.
If you’re thinking about starting your own business, visit directincorporation.com to get started today!