A trademark is a “word, phrase, symbol, design, or a combination of these things that identifies your goods or services.”
For hundreds of years businesses, merchants, and craftsmen have used trademarks to identify the source of their goods and services. The Chinese used them on pottery as early as 2698 B.C. The ancient Romans put them on a variety of items, including ammo for slingshots and piping for their aqueducts. More recently, in 1266 A.D. the British enacted one of the first modern trademark law, the “Baking Markers law,” that required all bakers to put a personal marking on baked bread. So, what did the ancients see that is so valuable in a Trademark?
Used properly there are many benefits to owning, using, and, most importantly, registering a trademark. A registered trademark, 1) gives you exclusive ownership of your mark and important legal protections, and 2) helps you build a customer base.
The One and Only
Using and federally registering a trademark means you and you alone will be able to sell your specific product or service with that mark within the United States. This protection also extends against marks that are deemed “confusingly similar.” A confusingly similar mark, is a mark that is so similar to yours that consumers are likely to confuse the two businesses. If the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) finds such a mark during their application examination the office will deny the application, which means that the sooner you register your mark, the better.
Furthermore, you are able to demand statutory damages from an infringer; this avoids the hassle of proving lost profits. You can claim priority of use back to the first sale a product using the mark, an important date in establishing your rights against infringers. And you can have website hosts take down infringing uses of your mark much easier as many require proof of ownership and a registration number to comply.
What’s In a Name?
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet,” Shakespeare wrote in Romeo and Juliet. This suggests that a name merely is a label to distinguish one thing from another, but in the world of trademarks that distinction can hold substantial worth.
For instance, a chocolate rose. Most consumers know that they would probably pay a far heftier price for a chocolate rose from Godiva® than they would from Hershey®. But, why the mark up?
The important answer is that consumers build an expectation for the quality, style and value that becomes associated with a mark. Consumers will spend extra and, in some cases, develop a great loyalty to a brand. Trademarks help grow a company by becoming connected to the quality of service or product.
These are just some of the benefits and reasons why you should own and register a trademark if you are selling a product or service. Do you want to register a trademark, or perhaps someone is using a “confusingly similar” mark to your own? If so, we’re happy to continue the conversation by phone, email, or webform.
All the best,