What is a Trademark

A trademark is any symbol, phrase or word that you use to identify the source of your goods or services. Coca-cola is a famous trademark for a cola flavored beverage. Pepsi-cola is another famous trademark for a different cola flavored beverage. Tiffany is a famous trademark for a retailer of luxury jewelry. IBM is a trademark for computers. Trademarks allow companies to form a reputation for quality by consistently providing excellent products or services under the trademark. Once consumers have become accustomed to receiving excellent quality goods or services under the trademark, it is said that the trademark has acquired “good will,” which can make the trademark very valuable.

By providing a consistent level of quality in the goods or services provided under their trademarks, companies assist consumers to locate products or services of the quality they desire. For example, a consumer entering a retail store under the Tiffany trademark would expect excellent personalized services and also would expect that the items for sale would be of very high quality. A consumer purchasing a bottle of soda bearing the Coca-cola trademark expects that the beverage inside the container will have very well defined characteristics, such as the consumer has experienced in the past when purchasing Coca-cola. If, however, a certain consumer had in the past tasted both Coca-cola and Pepsi-cola and found that she preferred one over the other, such consumer could opt in the future to purchase only the preferred flavor, and thanks to the trademark, it would be easy for her to do so.

Besides symbols, phrases or words, sounds can also function as trademarks. Think of the electronic musical notes your mind associates with the trademark INTEL – this sound is also a trademark.

Do a Trademark Search before filing an application

A trademark identifies the source of the product, but cannot be the name for the type of product. Thus, while cola beverages from different sources can be marketed under the trademarks Coca-cola and Pepsi-cola, no one could claim ownership of the term “cola” as a trademark, because this is the name of the thing itself. Thus, a trademark cannot be the generic name for the thing being sold. You can’t own the trademark COFFEE for your brand of coffee.

Trademark Registration prevents others from using your registered trademark without permission.

If one company’s trademark for a certain product is too similar to another company’s trademark for a closely related product, consumers may become confused as to the source of these products. Trademark law aims to prevent such consumer confusion.

*Past results do not guarantee a similar outcome