A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, or design that identifies a source of goods or services. While patents and copyrights expire after a set number of years, trademarks have the potential to be enforceable forever. Although trademarks do not necessarily need to be registered with the USPTO, registration provides many benefits. It provides notice to the public of registrant’s rights to the mark, a legal presumption of ownership, and the exclusive right to use the mark on the goods or services listed in the registration. In order to maintain a federally registered trademark, the mark must continuously be in use and fees must be paid periodically to the USPTO.
So again, why are trademarks important?
Well, let’s start by listing some of the more famous marks: Coca-Cola, Apple, Ford. When you read those words certain goods immediately come to mind. Trademarks provide consumer recognition.
If a competitor were to make a separate car and sell it as a new “Ford” model, Ford would be able to sue for trademark infringement. Trademarks provide brand protection.
If Ford wanted to change their business strategy and no longer sell sports cars, they could sell their “Mustang” trademark to another company. Trademarks provide unique business opportunities.
Ultimately, trademarks are important assets for businesses to have. The creative ways to manage them are endless. Let us know if you need help obtaining or managing a trademark for your company. We’d be happy to help!