The Truth Behind the Trademark

October 21, 2015 9:53 pm, Published by


The first users of trademarks are believed to be blacksmiths making swords during the Roman Empire.  King Henry III passed the first trade market legislation in 1266 to distinguish one bakers bread from one another.  Modern trademark laws first appeared in the late 19th century.  A trademark, otherwise known as a brand or a mark, is used to classify products or services using a sign, design, or an expression.

Business organizations, individuals, or any legal entity may own a trademark and place it on packages, labels, vouchers, on the product itself, or on advertising campaigns.  In other words, a trademark is a brand for goods and services and is not to be confused with a patent, which protects an invention.  Both however, are handled by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. 

Trademarks provide legal premise that you are the owner of the mark and grant you exclusive rights to use the mark with your goods and services. Note, state trademark registration only gives you rights within the borders of that state. Federal registration will give you rights throughout the nation and its territories.  Once registered, the public is given notice that you are the proprietor of the trademark.  If someone questions the ownership or wants to see whether or not their mark conflicts with yours, they can research existing registered marks in the USPTO’s online database. To secure proprietary rights, you will need to register your brand with the trademark office in the appropriate jurisdiction. 

The United States’ registration process requires a few steps.  First, the trademark owner needs to file an application to register the mark.  A lawyer at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will then review the application.  This examining attorney will identify the candidate’s goods or services appropriately and may require the applicant to address any issues or refusals prior to registering the mark. Once approved, the application will be published for opposition for thirty (30) days.  During these thirty days, third parties who may be affected by the registration are allowed to come forward.  Once the opposition period is over, and no objections are made, the applicant can then take ownership of the trademark.

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