Recognition is very important in business. To do good business, the company or product must be in the minds of consumers to make a sale and subsequently, profit.
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. A well-thought-out business name, for instance, distinguishes the new players from the old-timers.
In this blog, we will discuss the protection of intellectual property, particularly the correct usage of trademark symbols and registration for businesses. How these can protect your business and brand. And lastly, the necessary steps in getting one. 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.
- What are the Types of Intellectual Property?
- Trademark vs Registered, What’s the Difference?
- Can A Trademark Symbol Be Used Without Registration
- Why Should You Register A Trademark
- How and Where to Start Registering A Trademark
What are the Types of Intellectual Property?
There are four types of intellectual property. These are:
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.” 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 trade mark 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: 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 business. 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 and gain legal trademark protection.
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.
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 protection with an unregistered trademark, you may be at risk if you commit trademark infringement on someone else’s registered trademark.
Without registration, your legal rights for the trademark are only limited to the geographic areas of your business operations. For as long as your trademark’s distinctiveness identifies your product and services, you may claim trademark rights for your unregistered trademark and stop even bigger companies from use and utilization but only in your geographic area.
Unregistered trade marks 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.
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.
Why Should You Register A Trademark
The laws on unregistered trademarks are obtained from the concept and fundamentals of unfair competition or unfair business. When you have worked 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 very important especially if you do interstate trade because you can file legal action on trademark infringers federally in court, claim incontestable status after five years of approved trademark registration, the presumption of ownership, enhanced remedies, and constructive notice of ownership throughout the country.
Even if you do not intend to bring your business interstate, it can still be very beneficial to file a trademark. Nowadays, businesses have their own online commerce platforms and trademark registration can help 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 trademark law and you may now include the registered — R in a circle (®) mark. This indicates to other parties that you have a registered trademark and that you, as the licensee, own the exclusive rights to use the mark.
Hiring Competent IP Lawyers
The best way to get a trademark is to hire intellectual property lawyers to guide you in the complex legal procedures and rules in trademark registration. War IP Law PLCC in Washington DC can help you in obtaining such IP rights and you are afforded the strongest protection by law. There are many types of intellectual property and War IP Law PLCC can advise you if trademark registration is your best course of action.
Don’t put your business at risk. Make sure your product and business names are protected with a copyright or trademark. Call an intellectual property attorney today.