Amazon, Nike’s swish, and Fly the Friendly Skies; one is a single word, one a symbol and one a slogan. All different, yet all three independently draw a distinct image in our mind about a specific business’s goods, services and thus associated quality. The power of branding is an important component of a solid business plan. Protecting your business brand differentiates you from your competitors and generates a perceived value to your customer base. Solid business branding gives customers an expected value before they buy anything.
A trademark is a word, phrase, slogan, symbol, design or combination thereof that identifies the source of the goods and services of one business and distinguishes them, from the goods and services of another. Registered federal trademark protection provides a national, exclusive legal right to use the “mark” for your business identification. A registered federal trademark is identified by the circle R symbol ®; while the “TM” symbol is not registered and does not guarantee any legal right but is often used to indicate a company intends to trademark. In contrast, a registered state trademark only provides protection within that state; thus, having less geographic value.
Once a trademark is registered, there is a legal presumption that you are the owner of the mark. This provides a real advantage for protecting your brand as the public is on legal notice that you own the mark. Any competitor using a similar mark, which might cause customer confusion, can be liable to you for infringement. Further, once you are listed on the USPTO trademark database, others can find your mark while researching and designing their own mark thus avoiding selecting a similar mark.
Protecting your business brand is one of many ways a business lawyer can provide you an advantage against your competitors. We enjoy helping clients with all your business needs including trademarks, business planning, entity formation and lease negotiation. Feel free to contact us for assistance.
Scott C. Bucy is an attorney with the Law Office of Robert Good LLC, specializing in intellectual property, business, estate planning and probate. Contact him at (541) 482-3763.