Trademarks – the basics
Unique words and designs that represent the “brand name” or “brand identity” of your products and / or services should be protected. The brand identity of a product is commonly known as a trademark and the brand identity for a service is known as a service mark. A “trade name,” the name of a company, does not function as a trademark. However, Greenberg & Lieberman can assist you in taking certain steps so the name of your company can function as a service mark.
As one of the most powerful brands in the world, the mark GOOGLE® is worth approximately $61.9 billion* and the mark COCA-COLA® (first registered in 1893) is worth $44.1 billion.
Of course, since there are no statutory limits as to the amount of time a mark can be used, as long as the mark is used in commerce and the maintenance fees and other procedural requirements are followed, a company benefits indefinitely from trademark registration and the goodwill associated with the mark.
Greenberg & Lieberman knows how to protect your brand identity and can advise you in choosing a mark that would not cause competitors to question your right to use or register the mark. We can assure you that we are not only successful in obtaining trademark registrations, but once your mark is registered, Greenberg & Lieberman will keep track of all maintenance deadlines and send notifications to you when action must be taken.
Your mark, the brand name or design logo associated with your product or service, is the symbol of your hard work, the symbol of the quality of your product or service, the symbol of your skill. Your mark enhances the value of your product and service. Your mark may not yet be as old as the COCA-COLA® mark or as valuable as the GOOGLE® mark, but it is a vital and integral element of your identity.
Specifically, a trademark is the brand name that appears on your product so that consumers can easily identify your product from those of your competitor. If you or your company offers services the brand is referred to as a service mark. You can also acquire rights to 1) A unique overall appearance of the interior layout and design style of a restaurant, 2) A unique, non-functional design of the packaging used for your product, 3) The unique color of your product if consumers associate that color only with your product, 4) and A unique sound that is used in used in connection with your product or service. You can register word marks, design marks (logos), slogans, or a combination of these elements. We can also assist you in registering collective trademarks and service marks, collective membership marks and certification marks.
Don’t wait until there’s a problem.
Greenberg & Lieberman recommends registering your mark as soon as you have chosen an appropriate brand name or design mark (logo). The process begins with a comprehensive screening search in various online databases, including the United States Patent and Trademark Office database, to make sure someone else hasn’t already appliced for or registered the mark you wish to use and register.
While discovering that your mark is already in use is disappointing, it’s also a very good way to avoid a potentially expensive legal action. You don’t want to invest substantial sums and build a successful business and then learn that you have to change your brand name, your logo, or you slogan. Additionally, you don’t want the expense of defending an infringement action or paying out money to someone else because you are using a mark that is confusingly similar to his or her mark.
Get the protection you need.
Once Greenberg & Lieberman determines there are no conflicts, we can register your mark for you by filing an applications through the following:
- United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for US registration, located minutes from our office in the Washington, DC
- Community Trade Mark (CTM) for European Union registration, administered by the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) and located in Alicante, Spain
- Any country of your choice.
A registered mark allows you to use your mark throughout the United States. If a person or an entity uses a confusingly similar mark to yours, you would have the right to stop their use of the mark. Additionally, by registering your mark, you obtain statutory rights that are not available if you merely use your mark without registration. For example, if someone willfully uses your mark without your permission, you might be able to obtain three times the amount of your actual damages.
Greenberg & Lieberman will get the job done.
Greenberg & Lieberman offers consultation services for assisting you in choosing your mark and discussing the best forums for obtaining maximum protection (the first 30 minutes of the consultation is free, but any time after that is billed at an hourly rate). A screening search includes review of the USPTO database and other online web pages. The costs for a word mark screening search is $435 per class, for a design (logo) screening search is $500 and if the mark is a combination word and design, the cost of the screening search is $675.
The cost for filing an application in the USPTO varies and depends on whether the mark is in use in commerce at the time the application is filed and the number of classes the goods/services fall into. The USPTO class system attempts to group like products and like services within the same class. However, these classes are somewhat arbitrary and therefore we might not know exactly how many classes the mark covers until the application is examined.
The cost to file an application to protect your rights in the European Union or another country also varies and that information will be discussed with you after a consultation with one of our trademark lawyers. There are also other associated costs with filing an application which we will provide after a screening search is completed.
We offer affordable, quality legal services. Contact Greenberg & Lieberman to assist you in protecting your brand name, distinctive design (logo), or tagline.
Act NOW to Protect your brand identity today.
“Google beats Microsoft, Coke in brand stakes,” By Gemma Simpson on NEWS.COM (Published April 23,2007) Special to CNET News.com.
Act NOW and Protect your business identity.