The Importance of Trademarks

A trademark is a symbol that represents a company. It can incorporate elements such as art, logos, words, numbers, colors, and even sounds and smells. Establishing a trademark is one of the simplest, easiest things you can do to brand your business in today’s marketplace – if the trademark is unique, original, and well-designed. Most people are visual learners – they will remember a trademark more easily than they remember the exact name of the business. Better yet, the trademark may help potential customers to remember the exact name of a business so that they can Google it in order to locate it later. Equally importantly, a trademark helps consumers to distinguish between your business and that of your competitors.

In addition to branding your business and making it easily recognizable, a trademark instills consumer confidence in a potential customer. A business with a trademark appears to be a business that is established and has been around for several years. Consumers feel that such a business is more likely to be reliable, to live up to its commitments, and to be easy to work with.

Trademark Protection

You can establish a trademark and brand your business with it simply by using it. You do not have to go through any legal formalities whatsoever. However, registering a trademark offers a business an important advantage – legal protection in the event  that the trademark is infringed. If a trademark is infringed, lack of registration will not necessarily prevent you from filing a lawsuit for unauthorized use. But if you have not registered your trademark, it may be regarded as a common law trademark, one that is generally restricted to a particular geographical area – typically the area in which your business is operating. So you could not easily sue for trademark infringement if your business is located in a different city or state than the infringing business, for example.

On the other hand, if another business infringes a trademark that you have registered legally, you will easily be able to demonstrate that you own and have the exclusive right to use that mark.  

In the U.S., there are two different trademark registers. The Patent and Trademark Office’s Principal Register is for trademarks that are arbitrary and fanciful, suggestive, or descriptive but with a secondary meaning. The Supplemental Register is for trademarks that do not have an established secondary meaning but yet are not generic. Either register offers legal protection to a business in the event of a trademark infringement. 

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