Trademark Law

Trademarks can be used illustrate a business name or logo. A variation of trademarks are service marks, which can be used to help distinguish products and services from competitors. As a businesses marks visually represent the brand of the company, properly using, registering, and defending the marks can be crucial for business survival. Our trademark lawyers can help navigate the nuances of trademark issues.

Our tradmark lawyers warn that trademarks can be deceptively simple to unwary applicant who files for a mark and then acts as if their use of the mark is protected. Even if a trademark registration is obtained, there may be important limitations on the use of the mark. 

The standard for whether a mark will receive protection is determined by a demonstration that the mark is not confusingly similar to an existing mark - visually or audibly. It is a common misconception by businesses that a minor change will be sufficient to make their mark unique, such as changing the letter "s" to the letter "z." 

Fanciful marks are considered the strongest type of mark. A fanciful mark is one that is created for the sole purpose of identifying the brand, product, or service and would be meaningless otherwise. Such marks have the least chance of becomming entangled in a dispute. Although other marks can operate under protection of the law, a business may have to dedicate more time, money, and resources to defend the mark.

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Trademark Law Q&A's

Trademark Law Q & A's

What is a fanciful trademark? +

These marks are considere the strongest type of trademark. To identify a fanciful mark, ask yourself whether the mark means anything when separated from the brand it is used to identify. If the answer is "no," then the mark is most likely fanciful. Xerox is a famous technology company that uses the distinctive name to operate only as a trademark. Xerox means nothing without the company and products that stand behind the name.

What is an arbitrary trademark? +

An arbitrary trademark uses a common name, but is used in a way that is unrelated to the products or services. Although an arbitrary mark can be considered stong or defensible if disputed, it is not as strong as a fanciful mark. Probably one of the most popular examples of an arbitrary mark is Apple where many people that say the name may actually think of thier mobile devices before visualizing the fruit.

What is a suggestive trademark? +

Suggestive marks generally imply the quality or characteristic of the goods and services. The commonality of these marks can be the crux of trademark disputes because they are not as distinguishable as fanciful marks.  A reason that such marks may be used is because it does not take a creative team to construct a suggestive mark. However, the money and time saved in creativity, may be put to use in a later trademark dispute. An example of a suggestive mark easily identifiable in the technology space is Microsoft.

What are trademark classes? +

When filing a trademark application, at least one class, or international class (IC), must be selected for the products or services. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) uses classes to catagorize trademarks according to similar products or services. More than one class may be selected, but there are additional fees applied for each class.

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