Trademarks

® The use of an R in a circle indicates that a trademark has been register with The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

 

TM

      The use of the letters TM indicate that a mark is being used as a trademark, but the trademark has not yet been registered or cannot be registered.

 

What can be a trademark?

 

 A trademark can be anything that identifies the source of a product or the provider of a service. A marks that identifies the source of a product is called a trademark. A marks that identifies the provider of a service is called a service marks. However, trademarks and service marks are legally the same thing.

 Trademarks and service marks can be anything that makes a consumer think of a product or service. See the examples below.

 

Word Marks

Most trademark/service mark registrations are for word marks. If you register a word mark, no competitor can use a name for a product or service that is confusing with yours.  Work marks are often the name of a company (Apple®,  IBM®,  PEPSI ®) or the name of a restaurant (Burger King®,  Pizza Hut®).

Trademarks for words are relatively simple to obtain and are granted by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, provided there is no other competing mark that is similar enough to cause confusion.

 

Logos

A trademark can be a logo, provided it identifies a product or service. For example, most people seeing the logo below would recognize that it is for Mercedes-Benz®.

 

Trademarks for logos are relatively simple to obtain and are granted by the Trademark Office, provided the logo is used on the product/ product packaging and there is no other competing mark that is similar enough to cause confusion.

 

Slogans

A trademark can be a slogan, provided it identifies a product or service. For example, most people seeing the slogan below would recognize that it is for Nike®.

 

Trademarks for slogans are relatively simple to obtain and are granted by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, provided the slogan is used on the product/ product packaging and there is no other competing mark that is similar enough to cause confusion.

 

Shapes

A trademark can be a unique shape, provided it identifies a product or service. For example, most people seeing the shape of the bottle below will recognize it as a Coca-Cola® bottle.

 

Trademarks for shapes are complicated to obtain. The U.S. Patent & Trademark office typically requires some proof that the shape has acquired some secondary meaning and is associated with a particular product or service.

 

 

Colors

A trademark can be a color, provided it identifies a product or service. For example, most people seeing the color of the box below will recognize it as a Tiffany® box. Similarly, most people seeing the green and yellow tractor below will recognize it as a John Deere® tractor.

 

Trademarks for colors are also complicated to obtain. The U.S. Patent & Trademark office typically requires some proof that the color has acquired some secondary meaning and is associated with a particular product or service.

 

Sounds/Smells

Like colors and shapes, sounds and smells can also be registered as trademarks provided the sound/smell has acquired some secondary meaning and is associated with a particular product or service.

What Cannot Be A Trademark

 

A trademark cannot be a generic or otherwise common term for a product or service.

For example, you cannot trademark the name “Corn Hole” for a bean bag toss game, because corn hole is a common term for bean bag toss games.

 

A trademark cannot be descriptive of a characteristic of the product or service.

For example, you cannot trademark the name “hot & fresh” for pizza, because pizza is assumed to be hot and fresh.

 

A trademark cannot have utility.

If the shape, sound, color or smell of a product serves any purpose, other than to identify the source of the product, then it cannot be a trademark.

 

T-shirt designs, bumper stickers, and posters typically cannot be registered as trademarks.

A design or slogan on a T-shirt, bumper sticker or poster typically cannot be used as a trademark because it does not identify the source of the product.

 

Names of products or services you have no intention of actually making or providing cannot be registered as trademarks.

 

You cannot trademark a name just because it is a good name or you think someone else might like it. You have to intend to make a product or provide a service. The trademark registration will not issue until you provide proof that you are selling a product or providing a service using the trademark you seek.

 

 

LaMorte & Associates

985 Reading Avenue

PO Box 434

Yardley, PA 19067

(215) 321-6772

The use of an R in a circle indicates that a trademark has been register with The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.