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Top Ten Ways to Protect Your Trademarks

Posted on Fri, Feb 24, 2012 @ 01:13 PM

Sara Straight Wolfby Sara Straight Wolf

  1. File for United States trademark protection for your brand names – including your company name and the names of your signature products or services.  Trademark protection is also available within a state if you do not do business in interstate commerce. Registration keeps others from using the same or a confusingly similar trademark because the registration is public record.

  2. File for United States trademark protection for your company, product or services logos –even if the words in the logo cannot be protected by trademark registration, the design can be protected.

  3. Capitalize the trademark at all times, either with an initial capital letter or all capital letters. It should stand out and be distinctive in your advertising, your displays and on your products.

  4. If the trademark is registered with the U.S. Trademark Office, designate the trademark with the symbol ® immediately after the trademark on the first or most prominent use of the trademark.  It’s important to let people know you claim trademark rights so that they can’t claim they are innocent infringers.

  5. If the trademark is not registered, or if registration is pending, designate the trademark with the symbol TM immediately after the trademark on the first or most prominent use of the trademark.  It’s important to let people know you claim trademark rights even though your trademark is not registered in the federal system so that they can’t claim they are innocent infringers.

  6. Use the trademark as an adjective that describes the product, such as “Kleenex® tissues” and “Joy® detergent.”  If you use the trademark as a noun for your product or service, there is a risk that it can become generic.  The word “aspirin” was once a trademark for pain relievers produced by one company.  In the same vein, never use the trademark in possessive, plural or hyphenated form.

  7. Never use the trademark as a verb.  The Xerox Company has been fighting against the common use of the term “Xerox” as a verb meaning “to copy” for years.

  8. Do not shorten, abbreviate or create an acronym from a trademark.

  9. If another business uses your trademark as its own, uses it as their domain name, or uses it in their logo, you are entitled to bring litigation against them for trademark infringement.  No other business or group is permitted to use your trademark in a way that would create confusion between their product or service and your product or service. 

  10. If another business that sells goods or services similar to yours uses a trademark similar to yours or uses your trademark as its own, send them a cease and desist letter.  If you do not police your trademarks, you risk losing them through your inaction.  No other business or group is permitted to use your trademark in a way that would create confusion between their product or service and your product or service.


Tags: Intellectual Property, Trademarks, Trademark Protection, Top Ten, Trademark Registration, Sara Wolf