A trademark is an intellectual property right that protects a company’s brand. The idea is to allow a producer of goods or services to distinguish their goods or services from those of a different producer. If you purchase a hamburger that comes in a bag with the McDonald’s arches on it, you know that burger came from McDonald’s, not Wendy’s.
There are state, federal, and international trademark laws that interact with one another. These laws impact your business, whether you know it or not, and should be considered when developing a business strategy.
Businesses sometimes find themselves in trouble because they did not research their business name, product packaging, or catchy slogan before rolling it out. If another business has already been using the name, packaging, product name, or slogan (or a substantially similar one), that business may bring a lawsuit for trademark infringement. Trademark fights can result in significant monetary damages and injunctive relief where a court orders the offending business to change its brand, effectively wiping out any good will that brand had acquired. However, these issues can be minimized or avoided with thorough upfront preparation.
On the other side of the coin, trademark law can and should be used to protect a company’s brand. There are state, federal, and international laws that allow businesses to “register” their trademarks, which in turn generally allows them to prohibit other companies or individuals from using those marks without permission.
Registration is not an automated process. Each application is reviewed to ensure that it meets the registering office’s requirements. Each level of government has different rules regarding trademark registration, and sometimes there are ways to more easily register a trademark in different countries at the same time.
Even after your trademark is registered, there are steps you must take to enforce it in order to protect your registration. Failure to do so could result in losing your registration status. Our attorneys can help you develop a policing strategy and intervene on your behalf if others impermissibly try to use your trademark.
The above are just a few of the many reasons your business needs a trademark attorney. For more reasons or for legal advice on the use and enforcement of trademarks in your business, contact the attorneys at Whitcomb, Selinsky today to see how we can be of assistance.