Trademarks are words, letters, designs, symbols or logos which act to identify the owner’s goods or services. Trademarks are sometimes referred to as brand names. Popular examples are: Coca Cola®, Gatorade®, the Nike swoosh symbol or McDonald’s golden arches.
U.S. trademark rights are established through use in commerce. A trademark based solely on use has limited advantages compared with those which are registered. To secure trademark protection nationwide, a federal registration is highly recommended.
A trademark receives federal registration through the United States Patent and Trademark Office. There are several benefits of Federal Trademark Registration including to ensure that another business will not be able to register the same or a confusingly similar mark for similar goods or services.
From a business perspective, a trademark allows consumers to develop brand recognition. The investment to develop a brand may be jeopardized if the owner waits to register a trademark because another could register the mark before them.
Prior to applying to federally register a trademark, it is highly recommended the owner complete a clearance search of existing trademarks. A search helps to assess availability of a trademark and greatly reduces risk that a business invests in a brand that will have to be changed to avoid infringement liability.
Trademarks do not need to be identical to be refused.
Our firm offers a full range of services for United States patents, trademarks, and copyrights. We also can assist with international patent and trademark registrations, state specific trademarks, for profit and non-for profit business formations, acquisitions, contract negotiations and other business matters.
Unlike many on-line services claiming to be IP service providers, all of our services are delivered by licensed attorneys to stream line the process and save you time and resources. Go to Frequently Asked Questions for additional information on the topics below.
A copyright is a form of legal protection given to works of original authorship by the U.S. Copyright Office once the work is placed in a fixed or tangible form. Only the original author of the work can claim ownership unless the work was made through an agreement with the author.
Copyrights can exist for:
• literary works consisting of more than a short phrase or slogan
• musical works, including any accompanying words
• dramatic works, including any accompanying music
• pantomimes and choreographic works
• pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
• motion pictures and other audiovisual works
• sound recordings
• architectural works
Registration by the U.S. Copyright Office or publication of the work is not required for the author to secure copyrights, however there are certain benefits of federal copyright registration. These benefits include the ability to bring a case to court if there is an infringement or unauthorized copying of the work.
An attorney’s legal fees and statutory damages may also be covered by the infringing party if a copyright obtains federal registration before an infringement claim is brought to court.
A patent is a property right granted to an inventor by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The right granted excludes others from making, using, offering, selling or importing the same invention in the United States for a limited time. The types of patents available are:
1) Utility – the most common patent. Used for new, nonobvious and useful processes, machines, manufactured articles, composition of matter or improvements to the above.
2) Design – ornamental design of a manufactured article.
3) Plant - asexually reproduced plant varieties by design and plant patents.
Before investing time and resources into a patent application, we highly recommend performing a patent search to determine if your invention is patentable. A search may identify prior patents, published applications and possibly other publications that share sufficient characteristics with your invention which may preclude or limit the scope of patent protection.
Another consideration before submitting a patent application, is whether a provisional or non-provisional application is appropriate. A provisional application acts a placeholder to the non-provisional application. The benefits of a provisional application are: no claims or detailed drawings are required at the time of application; allows the term “patent pending” to be used with the invention; and does not require oaths or disclosures of prior art.
NOTE: A provisional application must be merged or converted into a non-provisional application within one year, otherwise it becomes abandoned.