A trademark is usually defined as ‘a word, name, symbol or device that is implemented in the trade of goods to indicate the origin of the goods, and to distinguish them from the goods of others’. A trademark is specific to goods: a service mark is the distinguishing word, name, symbol or device used to identify specific services. However, the term ‘trademark’ is often used to refer to both trademarks and service marks, as they are essentially the same.
A trademark grants its owners the legal right to stop other companies from using a mark that is similar to their own. But trademarks cannot be used to prevent competing companies from producing or selling the same goods or services under a completely different trademark.
Registering a Trademark
Clever business owners often register their own trademarks with trademark officials in order to obtain a certified record of their rights to an individual mark. When a trademark is registered, the owner gains the legal right – although subject to some conditions – to prevent other companies from using their trademark without permission.
One of the main goals of any business is to uphold the good reputation of its goods and services. Owning a registered trademark can assist in this process: it serves to inform potential infringers of the intent of your business to maintain its position within the market. If your trademark is properly secured and endorsed, it has the potential to be a valuable asset to your company.
Generally, a registered trademark is protected for a decade, and can be renewed indefinitely.
The True Value of Trademarks
Every successful company has thought carefully about the visibility and profiling of their business.
The Difference between a Company Name and a Company Trademark
The business, trade, or company name is the name with which a company identifies itself. It’s the name that is used for purposes of company registration, taxation, financial reporting and government dealings. A company or business name does not contain any identifiers other than the name itself.
Most company names aren’t eligible for trademark registration due to the confusing similarities between them. For a company name to be trademarked, it needs to be distinct enough to be recognised from other companies within the marketplace.
It is possible for your company name to be registered as a trademark, but only if it is used to signify specific goods or services.
An eligible trademark needs to:
- Distinguish the types of goods and services that it advertises
- Refrain from being deceptive, or ignorant of morality and law
- Be unique: it cannot be confusingly similar to other marks that identify the same goods and services
When you’re starting a new business, you need to consider what to name it: what kind of name will entice customers? And, more importantly, will your business name infringe on a competitor’s trademark?
If you’re considering registering a trademark, you should undergo a thorough examination of the current trademark register, company name registers, business registries, domain registries, and even telephone books, to ensure that your business name doesn’t infringe on other registered names. You might consider contacting a lawyer or trademark attorney to assist you in your search: a professional can give you the peace of mind of knowing that you aren’t infringing on the rights of others.
Keep in mind that even an established company name or domain title does not mean that your name will be automatically registered as a trademark. Registration acceptance is essential.
International Trademark Registration
Generally, you cannot be approved for an international trademark registration. Trademark registration is usually granted within individual regions. However, an intellectual property lawyer or trademark attorney can provide you with specific trademarking information: contact a professional today for further information on all of your trademarking questions and queries.