A trademark is a word, phrase, slogan, symbol, design, or combination thereof that identifies the source of a good or service and distinguishes them from other businesses or brand in the marketplace. Basically, a trademark tells consumers that your goods and services come from you and not someone else.
While you can use your imagination to choose a mark that best represents your brand, the ultimate goal is to select a trademark that can be federally registered and protected. Not every word or phrase qualifies for trademark protection; for example, choosing a word that’s “too generic” will result in a denial.
In order to avoid rejections and delays, you should keep the following two points in mind when choosing your mark:
1. Strength of the Trademark.
A strong trademark is easier to federally protect and will decrease the likelihood that other parties will use your mark.
- The weakest trademarks to protect are descriptive terms. Say you want to trademark “chalky” for your brand of chalkboard paint. The term really provides information about your product and doesn’t necessarily identify you as the source of the good or distinguish your brand from others. It’s best to steer clear of descriptive terms to avoid headaches with the USPTO.
- Fanciful and arbitrary marks are the easiest to protect. They are distinctive and serve as source identifiers. Fanciful marks are invented words with no dictionary meaning. Arbitrary marks are actual words with a known meaning but have no relationship with the identifying goods or services. Because these marks are unique and creative, it’s unlikely that other parties are using them for your offered goods and/or services.
2. Likelihood of Confusion.
You will want to avoid selecting a trademark that could cause confusion in the marketplace among consumers. This occurs when the trademarks of two parties are similar enough that consumers believe the goods or services offered come from the same source. This might happen if the trademark looks like another, sounds like another, or perhaps has a similar meaning and are associated with related goods and/or services. To identify existing marks that may cause confusion with the mark you desire, it’s a wise idea to conduct a trademark search using state and federal databases in addition to using a basic internet search engine to identify any marks that may have common law rights.
Choosing a trademark that can withstand the federal registration process while providing strong protection in the marketplace can be a tricky process. For the best and fastest results, it’s wise to work with a trademark attorney from the very start of the application process. If you need assistance, we invite you to contact our trademark attorneys at 888-666-0062 to schedule an appointment.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.