Four Biggest Trademark Myths

  1. A trademark has to be registered before protection starts.

trademark sign and padlockAlthough registering a trademark is always a great idea, protection of the trademark actually begins when the symbol or name is first used on the product or service (simply using in marketing materials is not enough).  The criteria for protection includes:  the symbol must be in use and must uniquely describe your product or service.

One note of caution:  Even though you are granted trademark protection prior to registering, you are only granted implicit protection in your geographic area.  It is always best to register trademarks to achieve nation-wide protection.

  1. No one else can use anything similar to my mark.

Many trademarks, brand names or product names are similar.  Similarity does not mean they all can’t be protected by their own trademarks.  Similarity is only a factor if the symbol, name or slogan used is close enough that consumers are likely to become confused by the use.

For example, Apple creates iPods, iPads and other items starting with the letter i.  This doesn’t mean that no one else can create a product name that starts with i.  However, if some other company creates a product called iCar and consumers may erroneously assume that Apple is the creator, the trademark office may consider this too similar and disallow the use of the iCar brand name. 

  1. Doing a Google search is enough to find out if someone else has registered a trademark.

Someone once quipped, “Abraham Lincoln always said ‘Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.’” It’s a great rule to live by.  Google is a great search engine, but it only brings back the most common results by the keywords in your search.

To really know if a trademark that you wish to use is already registered or in use somewhere else requires a search by an experienced attorney.  Not only because an attorney knows where to look and how to search, but also because similar names, symbols or brands must also be searched.  It takes expertise to do a valid trademark search.

  1. Registering my domain name trademarks that name for my use.

Out of all the myths, this is one that seems to be the most commonly accepted.  Let’s be very clear on this: Registering your domain name only gives you the right to use that specific domain name.

This doesn’t mean that you cannot use your domain name as your trademark, but the domain name must meet specific criteria related to trademark protection in order to be eligible.

Search Widerman Malek

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