Trademark Symbol

Brand recognition is important in business. To succeed, make sales, and profit, your company or product must be in the minds of consumers.

A well-thought-out business name, for instance, distinguishes the new players from the old-timers. New businesses, especially creative and well-packaged ones, are at risk of having their ideas, symbols, and other recognizable features used by competitors and bigger businesses.

In this blog, we will discuss the protection of intellectual property, particularly: (1) the correct usage of trademark symbols and trademark registration; (2) how trademarks can protect your business and brand; and (3) the necessary steps to register a trademark. Read on as we discuss some of the common questions on intellectual property. You may also seek legal advice from a reliable IP law firm in Washington DC.

  1. What are the Types of Intellectual Property?
  2. Trademark vs Registered Trademark: What’s the Difference?
  3. Can A Trademark Symbol Be Used Without Registration
  4. Why Should I Register A Trademark
  5. How and Where to Start Registering A Trademark

What are the Types of Intellectual Property?

There are four types of intellectual property. These are copyrights, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets.

The United States Copyright Office defines copyright as “a type of intellectual property that protects original works of authorship as soon as an author fixes the work in a tangible form of expression.” Copyright law can protect different types of works such as photos, musical compositions, books, computer programs, movies, plays, and many more. The copyright symbol is C in a circle or ©.

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) defines a patent as “an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides, in general, a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem.”

  • Trademarks

The United States Patent and Trademark Office defines a trademark as “any word, phrase, symbol, design, or a combination of these things that identifies your goods or services.” Specifically, the purpose of a trademark is to identify the source of goods or services.

  • Trade Secrets

Currently, their confidential information is qualified to become a trade secret if they meet the following criteria:

    • Commercially valuable because it is secret,
    • Be known only to a limited group of persons, and
    • Be subject to reasonable steps taken by the rightful holder of the information to keep it secret, including the use of confidentiality agreements for business partners and employees.

As the nature of a trade secret is confidential information which provides an economic advantage over competitors, there is no symbol to indicate a trade secret.

If you are looking to register a trademark or any other intellectual property, you may contact the attorneys at War IP Law in Washington DC. They have the expertise and experience to guide you on IP rights and the trademark registration process.

Trademark vs Registered Trademark: What’s the Difference?

The trademark symbol, superscript TM or ™, is used for a logo, name, phrase, word, design, or a combination thereof that represents the source of goods or services. The registered trademark symbol, R in a circle or ®, is used to indicate that a trademark is registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

It is considered a good practice to use the symbol consistently to gain legal trademark protection.

The use of the trademark symbol alerts your competitors that you are using the words and graphics for your business or that you have a registration currently pending at the USPTO and that any unauthorized usage may result in legal action.

However, as there is still no legal right conveyed by an unregistered trademark, you may be at risk if you commit trademark infringement on someone else’s registered trademark.

Without registration, your legal rights to the trademark are limited to the geographic area of your business operations. As long as your trademark’s distinctiveness identifies your product and services, you may claim trademark rights for your unregistered trademark and stop others—even bigger companies—from using your mark, but only in your geographic area.

Unregistered trademarks may be protected by federal trademark laws. However, the trade names of businesses that are not the same as unregistered trademarks, are not.

Moreover, though the range of protection to the use of your unregistered trademark is limited in your geographical region, you can still protect the unregistered logos under common law trademark and seek the aid of a trademark attorney to submit a cease and desist letter.

The importance of a registered trademark should not be taken lightly. A registered trademark restricts the use of the protected material to the trademark owner and that no one else can use, produce, copy or profit from the use of the registered mark. Legal action may be taken on the infringement of this intellectual property right.

Moreover, though the range of protection to the use of your unregistered trademark is limited in your geographical region, you can still protect the unregistered logos under common law trademark and seek the aid of a trademark attorney to submit a cease and desist letter.

Filing a trademark application first does not guarantee priority over a trademark. Should there be multiple applications, the date on which the mark was first used will determine who gets to be prioritized.

Discuss these risks with Intellectual property lawyers at War IP Law PLLC. They have extensive knowledge dealing with guarding and protecting your intellectual property and have years of experience doing so.

Why Should I Register A Trademark?

The laws on unregistered trademarks derive from the concept of unfair competition. When you work hard to build a reputation using your trademark, it is unethical for a competitor to trade and profit from that. This is why popular unregistered trademarks may be secured from dilution.

However, registering a trademark is still important, especially if you do interstate trade. With a registered trademark, you can file legal action against trademark infringers in federal court; claim incontestable status after five years of registration; and benefit from a presumption of ownership, enhanced remedies, and constructive notice of ownership throughout the country.

Even if you do not intend to operate your business interstate, it can still be beneficial to register a trademark. Nowadays, businesses often have online commerce platforms. Trademark registration can help in a fight over an internet domain name.

How and Where to Start Protecting Intellectual Property with a Registered Trademark

Before you add the trademark symbol to the term or graphic you want to represent your business or product, you have to ensure that no similar registered trademark exists. This can be easily done by doing a trademark search online via the Trademark Electronic Search System.

If you’re confident that your mark is not infringing any of the registered trademarks then you can already add the TM symbol, a superscript of the letters TM ( ™ ).

The next logical step to do in protecting your intellectual property is filing for trademark registration.

Do note that trademark registration covers the exact design of an application. Filing trademark applications for all versions of your mark is ideal so that you obtain rights for all of the versions, too.

Once your trademark is already registered in the USPTO, your trademark is now protected by federal trademark law and you may now include the registered trademark symbol— R in a circle (®). This indicates to other parties that you have a registered trademark and that you own the exclusive rights to use the mark.

Hiring Competent IP Lawyers

The best way to register a trademark is to hire intellectual property lawyers to guide you in the complex legal procedures and rules in trademark registration. War IP Law PLLC in Washington DC can help you in obtaining such IP rights and ensure that you are afforded the strongest protection by law. There are many types of intellectual property, and War IP Law PLLC can advise if trademark registration is your best course of action for you.

Don’t put your business at risk. Make sure your product and business names are protected. Call an intellectual property attorney today.