Thursday, September 9, 2010

Did you know? Common Trademark Mistakes and Myths

Do you really think you understand Trademark law?
By Maria Orlova

Few know the true advantage of registering a trademark. Most believe it unnecessary, exclaiming “I have a unique name no one else has!” Orville Wright once said, “If we worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true really is true, then there would be little hope for advance”. Mr. Wright, is right, too many times have I heard stories of people losing their business because someone has taken their trademark name. Whether you are a huge corporation, or a small mom-and-pop store, a trademark is important towards your protecting your brand.

If you have an established business, then you have common law trademark rights. The ™ symbol can be used to stand for your brand name in commerce. However, a U.S. federal trademark registration does hold more benefits, like potential damages if someone infringes on your trademark rights. Many businesses globalize they're product or company, in this case it is especially important to register with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) because registering a trademark in the U.S. can be used as a basis for obtaining registration in foreign countries. With a trademark or legal notice, the public is put on notice, of the ownerships rights to a name, logo and/or slogan in the classification of goods & services they filed under.

One can be in violation of trademark infringement for a number of reasons. The most common incidence is when an individual uses a brand name in commerce identical or similarly confusing to a trademark owned by another party. "But were totally different!" Be honest.Take a perspective from the consumers point of view, if a name sounds, looks, then it may confuse the customer of the origin of the product or service. The USPTO would send an Office Action letter to a trademark applicant if the new application posed a likelihood of confusion to the consumer.

Okay, perhaps you do not have the funds for a U.S. federal trademark ($325 per application, per classification; plus third party preparation costs) Do not be ignorant of existing trademarks, do your research.  Many times, trademark infringement occurs innocently, where someone was simply not aware that they were in violation of another party’s trademark. At least check to see if you are infringing on anyone else's trademark rights! allows users to freely search the U.S. federal trademark database directly on the homepage.

Maria Orlova is the Publicity and Media Relations Specialist for Trademarkia ( She also contributes to the Trademarkia Blog ( and Twitter (@Trademarkia). 

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