what they are, what they protect
A trademark ("mark") is a word or words, or
symbol or graphic design, or combinations of these elements that designate the
source of products (goods) – it’s a brand name or logo.
Trademarks are displayed on the
products and/or the packaging. A service mark is a mark used for services.
Trademark rights provide protection against
unauthorized use of a confusingly similar mark.
Trademark rights are created by
commercial use of the trademark. The ™
trademark symbol, or the SM
service mark symbol, should be displayed after unregistered marks.
Word marks should also be distinguished from neighboring text by a different
font style and/or font size.
Federal registration enhances the protections given to
the trademark rights created by proper use. The ®
registration symbol should be displayed after federally registered
The ® registration symbol should
never be displayed after marks that are not federally registered.
A generic term for the product or service sold is
not eligible for registration or protection.
Words that describe the product or service, or a
feature thereof, or an ingredient therein, are not eligible for registration on
the Principal Register until secondary meaning has attached to mark (words
recognized by consumers as a brand name, rather than a descriptor).
other topics -
more on trademarks,
domain names, slogans,
names as trademarks,
naming and branding
Trade names are business names, whether
a corporation, partnership, sole proprietorship, or other.
Trade name protection is similar to trademark
protection, except trade names are not registered and no symbols are
Unfair Competition & Section
Unfair competition protects against unfair
business practices, including (but not limited to) trademark and trade name
Section 43(a) of the Lanham Action, 15 U.S.C.
1125(a)(1), provides federal protection against infringement of
unregistered marks and trade names and many other forms of unfair competition.
other topics -
naming and branding,
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