For many individuals, businesses, and companies, one of their most important assets is their intellectual property (IP), which may include copyrights and trademarks. Fridman Law Firm understands how daunting it can be for entrepreneurs and companies to identify, register, and protect trademarks such as company names or logos. Nonetheless, this is a critical step in protecting your brand and ensuring you can comfortably use your trademark(s) without fear of infringement.
At Fridman Law Firm, our trademark attorneys have vast knowledge and experience in the entire trademark registration process and more. We are committed to providing our clients with the highest quality legal representation, as we also protect your trademarks from any form of intellectual property infringement.
Remember, your brand is more than just a name or logo. And that’s why our legal team understands the relevance of trademarks in the business world. Whether you are launching a startup or running a well-established business, our skilled trademark attorneys can help you navigate the complex world of trademarks.
What Is a Trademark?
According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), a trademark is “any word, phrase, symbol, design, or a combination of these things that identifies your goods or services.” The USPTO, which falls under the Department of Commerce, is the federal agency responsible for registering trademarks and granting U.S. patents.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), on the other hand, describes a trademark as a “sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one enterprise from those of other enterprises.”
Protected by IP rights, trademarks identify the source of goods or services, legally protect your brand, and prevent fraud and counterfeiting.
What Can Be Trademarked?
One common misconception when entrepreneurs or businesses apply for trademarks is that any name, logo, or design is trademarkable. This is far from the truth.
Understanding how trademarks work when distinguishing products within business and legal systems as well as with customers is critical when determining if your phrase, symbol, or design can be trademarked. This is why distinct and creative trademarks are stronger, more effective, and easier to protect.
Some of the concepts that can be trademarked include:
- Product names such as iPhone
- Company names like Google and Taco Bell
- Slogans and taglines such as “Just Do It” by Nike
- Color schemes
On the flip side, some of the concepts that can’t be trademarked include:
- Generic or descriptive words, such as “Fun Toy”
- Direct religious quotes
- Widely used messages like “Drive Safely”
- Geographical terms like New York or California
- Conflicting marks that may likely create confusion
Some aspects of your business, such as inventions and creative works of art, may require IP protection of a different kind — patents and copyrights. For this reason, it’s advisable to seek the counsel of an experienced business lawyer to understand whether or not your concept is trademarkable.
How Long Does a Trademark Last?
Generally, a trademark can last indefinitely as long as its owner continues to use it in commerce and meets proper maintenance requirements (renewal every 10 years). Unlike patents and copyrights, trademarks aren’t designed to expire. They can last as long as your business or company continues to sell goods or services using the registered trademark.
Still, between the fifth and sixth years after registration, the USPTO requires trademark owners to file a signed statement noting that the trademark is still in use. If owners don’t file periodic renewal applications, their registrations expire.
What Does a Trademark Lawyer Do?
It is highly advisable to retain a trademark attorney when applying for a trademark. A skilled lawyer specializing in trademark law will help with legal guidance, the trademark application process, and representation if you have dealings with the USPTO. Here are some of the services to expect from a trademark attorney:
Identifying Potential Company Trademarks
An experienced lawyer can offer general counsel on trademark-related matters and help you identify your company’s trademarks. Even though this may seem like a straightforward process, it often isn’t.
For example, you might want to trademark your business name, logo, and slogan. What about your individual services or products? Or your product packaging? Or the webinars your company offers?
Many things can be trademarked at the start of a business. Still, even thriving corporations considering mergers and acquisitions can trademark their new names or product lines. An experienced trademark attorney can help you identify suitable ones to add to your intellectual property portfolio.
Conducting Proper Trademark Searches and Clearance
When starting a business, the company’s brand is its most valuable asset. Make sure you get it right the first time.
By doing a proper search before adopting trademarks in conjunction with your branding and marketing strategies, you won’t waste time on applications that the USPTO will likely refuse. Some of the possible grounds for refusal of a mark include:
- Commercial impression
With a reliable trademark attorney in your corner, you can identify potential conflicts early enough before they become a serious problem. This is an important step that may help you avoid any trademark infringement lawsuits.
Developing a Proper Filing Strategy
A knowledgeable trademark attorney may also inform you about the pros and cons of various filing strategies and offer sound legal advice and strategy regarding the entire filing process.
Drafting Your Trademark Application
Trademark lawyers can also help draft trademark applications that meet the USPTO’s technical specifications. It is critical to remember that this is a legal document, and while questions may seem easy, technical responses may be required for approval, which Fridman Law Firm can help you with.
Some of the other roles of a trademark attorney include:
- Responding to office actions and refusals
- Addressing concerns raised by third parties claiming similar rights
- Enforcing your IP rights
- Creating cease and desist letters
- Handling trademark renewals
- Negotiating trademark licenses
Contact Us for All Your Trademark-Related Legal Guidance and Representation
As you can see, there are many roles a trademark lawyer can play when developing and securing your trademark and IP portfolio. It is important to start working with a reliable law firm that can conduct due diligence to address any legal problems that may arise.
At Fridman Law Firm, our legal team will advise you regarding registering and using your proposed trademark. If you have any questions about how we can help you with the trademark application process, call 212-262-9823 or fill out our online contact form.