As an entrepreneur. It’s important that you protect your company name, product brands, and logo symbols. In this post I will teach you all that you need to know about trademarks and service marks; the differences, the protections they offer, how to get one, the cost and legal considerations.
First, let’s explore the differences between trademarks and service marks, the basic law of usage and registration.
Common Law Trademark Rights
The US Lanham Act granted companies the common law rights to begin using their business name and logos as a form of trademark. This Act prohibits activities including trademark infringement, trademark dilution, and both advertising.
This means that as soon as you begin using your company name you have a casual form of trademark. Yet, I recommend registering your company name and logo. This will prevent competitors from stealing your name and also will ensure that you are not in violation of another’s trademark, which could result in a lawsuit against your company.
Federal Law Registration Protection
I recommend that you register your trademark using LegalZoom and save 10 % with promo code BEST4B19, with the US federal government. An excellent benefit of registering your trademark is that you are informing your industry and competitors of your intention to use this mark for your business. This prevents another company from using the same name, logo, phrase, symbol or design with a similar type of goods or services, in the case of service marks.
Check out this review of Legalzoom trademark services that I recommend for my small business clients
The differences between trademarks and service marks
The main difference is that trademarks protect intellectual properties, ie brand identifiers such as logos, company names, phrases, and designs that represent is a physical item such as a product. Whereas, service marks protect those same brand identifiers when they are representing non-physical items such as services. Thus, if your company sells items, you will want a trademark to protect your business name and logo. Furthermore, if your company also sells services, you will want to register for a service mark to protect that service.
Examples of Trademark and Service Mark Symbols
- TM – Trademark
- SM – Service Mark
- R – Registered Trademark or Servicemark
- C – Copyright
FAQ About Trademarks and Service Marks
Are trademarks and service marks protected in the same manner? Yes, The WTO World Trade Organization are similar types of protection. Often these types of intellectual protection are referred to as “marks” which could mean either a trademark or service mark.
Do I need to file a trademark for my business name? No, but you should. Common law says that once you begin using your business name you have a form of casual protection. However, I highly recommend that you register your business name as a trademark to establish your rights and protect your business name from competitors whom may copy for their nefarious purposes.
How can I trademark my logo for free? While I recommend you use professional legal services such as LegalZoom trademark registration, if your budget is limited, and you have the time and you want to register your trademark yourself, you will begin by going to the US patent and trademark office website. Then you will search the trademark electronic search system to be sure that another company has not already registered a similar name or mark. After you are certain that your name is available for a trademark you will begin the process online which will take a few hours, then you expect to receive your registration paperwork within 6 months.
How long can a trademark be protected? The initial term of an approved registered federal trademark is 10 years with the option to renew in 10-year intervals. Be aware that the US patent and trademark office requires that between the 5th and 6th year of trademark use that the owner must file a legal affidavit stating that they are continuing to use the trademark. If this affidavit is not filed properly and on time The trademark racist registration is canceled.
How much does it cost to trademark a word or phrase? In addition to any legal fees, of which I recommend the low-cost online services of LegalZoom, each trademark will cost a $325 fee for each class. The class means usage such as one for clothing, one for pens, one for our calendars, etc.
What is the difference Trademark and registered trademark? The difference is a federally registered and approved trademark application. The common law rights under the Lanham Act allow businesses to use the symbol TM to indicate their trademark claim. When that trademark is properly registered, even before it is formally accepted by the United States patent and trademark office, the symbol becomes an R to denote a registered trademark.
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