Ever heard of the classic slogans such as, “Just do it”, or “I’m loving it”, or even “Eat fresh”. These are some of the more popular slogans from top tiered companies: Nike, McDonald’s, and Subway. How come these are exclusive to their respective companies? That is where the law of trademarks comes in.
What is a Trademark?
A trademark is essentially a word, phrase, symbol, or logo that depicts a product or represents a company and its products. The trademark must be used for your benefit in commerce, or in other words for the purpose of your business. I mean why else would Dunkin’ Donuts have the slogan, “America runs on Dunkin’”, then to represent the fact that all Americans are fueled by Dunkin’. It drives their business. Makes sense right?
Alternatively to a word or phrase, a symbol or logo must be distinctive to your business. Therefore, if you create a new fast food chain, you obviously cannot use McDonald’s famous logo of the giant yellow “M” that you always find yourself searching for on the highway when you are on hour seven of your long road trip.
What is their purpose?
The main purpose of a trademark is to distinguish your companies from others. The trademark will help make your company stand out from others. Customers will also have the ability to identify your company compared to others. In addition, it protects aspects of your business such as slogans, your name, and your logo
How do you create a Trademark and protect it?
If you want a trademark, you must register it with the United States Patent and Trademark Office or otherwise known as the USPTO. Fancy right?
Now that you registered your trademark, it’s protected. However, the USPTO will not actually enforce that protection. You have to do so yourself. Therefore, check the USPTO website regularly to determine if any applications have any words, phrases, or logos similar to yours. There are also many experts out there whom you could hire to investigate others trademarks and ensure no one is stealing or copying yours.
Why should I get a Trademark?
a. Build your brand and distinguish yourself from your competitors.
One of the main components of a company that could potentially separate it from the others is its trademarks. Hence, why companies like McDonald’s and Nike go through the trouble of using such trademarks as “I’m lovin it” and “Just do it”.
Therefore, your trademarks literally build your brand. Moreover, it is how consumers an identify you. It would be useless for Wendy’s to not place their logo on their properties. They are essential to their brand recognition and identification.
b. Have full use of your word, phrase, logo, or symbol, exclusively.
Imagine Pepsi and CocaCola just used each other’s logos? That wouldn’t really help either company would it? That is exactly why trademarks are used exclusively by their creator. So don’t worry, you will never buy a CocaCola can sporting a Pepsi logo on the can.
Keep in mind though that you must do your own research on the USPTO and enforce your exclusive use of your trademark.
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In the event that you do come across another person or company using your trademarks, there are a variety of options you can pursue. Pursue those with the help of JustLaw.