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What is a Trademark?

If you are a business owner, you likely understand the importance of your business image. Essentially, your business image is how both your peers, competitors, and customers view you and your company. Smart business owners not only recognize the importance of their business image, but also strive to meld it with positive ideals and values, harness its power, and make it visible to both the business community and the consumer base.

A business image can be built in a variety of ways. Advertisements, slogans, logos, and even the name of the company itself can all be tools used to promote your business image. Many companies pour a vast amount of time and resources into these tools. For example, graphic designers toil to create logos and other promotional materials, while marketers spend long days pushing these creations to the business and consumer world. The resulting business image is always worth the effort.

That said, your efforts can be undermined or hindered if another business or individual steals your slogan, logo, or other promotional material (or creates a near-copy of it) to use for their own company. Thankfully, the U.S. Government has implemented a trademark, a form of Intellectual Property protection to prevent theft of a company’s promotional material. As a responsible business owner, you should know what a trademark is and why you should get one for your company:

Should I get a trademark for my business?

Absolutely. You want to ensure that you are the one and only business with the logo or slogan you created, and a trademark is essentially a government-issued license that recognizes this. According to the United States Office of Patents and Trademarks (USPTO), a trademark is “any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination, used or intended to be used to identify and distinguish the goods/services of one seller or provider from those of others, and to indicate the source of the goods/services”.

Will I have to renew my trademark?

Yes. According to the USPTO, your trademark (and the rights granted with it) last for ten years after registration with the U.S. government. Once your trademark expires, you must renew your trademark with the UTSPO for another ten years.

What rights do I have as a trademark owner?

There are plenty of benefits to owning a federally registered trademark. The UTSPO outlines quite a few:

  • “Public notice of your claim of ownership of the mark”
  • A legal presumption of your ownership of the mark and your exclusive right to use “the mark nationwide on or in connection with the goods/services listed in the registration”
  • “The ability to bring an action concerning the mark in federal court”
  • “The use of the U.S. registration as a basis to obtain registration in foreign countries”
  • “The ability to record the U.S. registration with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Service to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods”
  • “The right to use the federal registration symbol ®”
  • “Listing in the United States Patent and Trademark Office's online databases”

What should I do if someone steals my logo or other trademarked material?
If you believe an individual or company has stolen (or created a near copy) of your trademarked material, contact Colley & Colley immediately. Intellectual property cases can be difficult and time consuming, so it is a task best left to legal law professionals who have years of knowledge to fight for you. To learn more or to receive a free consultation, contact an experienced lawyer in Tyler, Texas today.