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What is a Trademark?

The term “trademark” is used casually in conversation these days, especially with the growth of small businesses and the importance of branding in both small and large businesses. Today, it is common for businesses to have catchphrases, logos, taglines, letterheads, and other branding insignias. So, are all of these trademarks?

A trademark is a recognizable word, design (logo), or a combination that identifies products or services from a particular source and distinguishes them from others. A trademark may be located on the product itself or on a package holding a product. They can also appear on other marketing materials including websites, pamphlets, and physical and electronic communications.

Word Marks

To elaborate further, trademarks can be classified as either a word mark or a design mark. A word mark is just that- words. When you file a trademark application for a word mark, you are just protecting a series of words. A word mark is one or more words that can be typed in a standard character format using a keyboard without any stylization. A good example of a word mark is:


Design Marks

In contrast, a design mark is generally a graphic design with or without wording, or just stylized wording. Often companies have a digital mascot or symbol that consumers associate with the company and these are design marks.

A good example of a design mark without wording is:

Design Mark Example

Additionally, some design marks can include a graphic design and a combination of words. A registration for a design mark can protect the colors and stylized text of the words, as well as the graphic design of the mark.

A good example of a design mark with both a graphic design and words is :

Combination Mark Example

When it comes to the filing of trademark applications, it is also important that the word mark or design mark be used properly as a trademark. Proper use can vary depending on where the applicant is using the mark. In particular, if being displayed on a website, the mark should be displayed at the top of the webpage and be spaced apart from other text and images. Also, the mark should not be imbedded within a paragraph on a webpage which would not be considered proper trademark use. To enhance the mark, it should be in a larger size than other text on the webpage. If the mark is being used on a product, it should be shown in a larger size than the other text and spaced apart from other text and images.

To obtain nationwide protection for your trademark, a trademark application must be properly filed with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO).  If the application is successful, the applicant will have a trademark registration which confers nationwide rights to the applicant.   By utilizing a trademark attorney, the likelihood of obtaining a federal trademark registration increases dramatically.

Please reach out to us if you would like to get more information on obtaining a trademark registration!

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