How many times do we wonder when and how to trademark our company name? Here are some tips to use when using trademarks, service marks.
A trademark identifies the intellectual property to be distinct and proprietary. You should apply to the United States Patent and Trademark Office for a registration to achieve maximum protection for proprietary names, but in some cases, it may not be necessary or beneficial.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark office https://www.uspto.gov/ will help you determine whether it is beneficial to pursue a trademark registration for a name. Please note names will require preliminary and possibly full trademark searches in order to ensure they don’t infringe on other trademarks regardless of whether we want to protect the trademark. Please allow adequate time for these searches.
Trademark rights can only be established through consistent, correct use. If the use of a trademark is discontinued for as few as three years or if the trademark is used indiscriminately or incorrectly or its licensees, you may lose its rights to the trademark. This jeopardizes the strength of your brand and its competitive position.
Best practices for using Trademarked names
- Think of all trademarks are adjectives. For best business practices, do not use trademarks as nouns or verbs. Always use the complete product or service name.
- The appropriate trademark attribution must be used at the first or most prominent mention of the product name.
- Never alter a trademark, including abbreviating to an acronym, or translate a trademark into another language without working with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office or Dirigo Agency before making such a change.
- Don’t use a trademark as a possessive or plural. Don’t use trademarks to coin new words or names. Don’t use trademarks to create a play on words.
- Here are the definitions of how to use the Trademark symbols as notices
® Registered Trademark – This symbol should be used only after registration as a trademark has been granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. A registration mark (®) is used with a name for which a government authority has issued a trademark registration certificate. It is used with registered trademarks for goods AND services. It replaces the ™ or SM.
™ Unregistered Trademark – Indicates an unregistered trademark that describes goods.
Trademarks (™) include words, symbols, designs, slogans, vanity numbers, or musical tones or combinations used commercially to identify and distinguish the goods of one source from those of another. The ™ indicates that the trademark is not registered.
SM Unregistered Service Mark – Indicates an unregistered service mark that describes services. Service marks (SM) include any word, symbol, design, slogan, vanity number or musical tones or combinations thereof used commercially in the sale or advertising of services to identify and distinguish services of one source from those of another. The SM designation indicates that the service mark is not registered.