In practical terms, a trademark is any text, graphic, sound, or other representation that distinguishes one company’s brand from another in the marketplace. If you aren’t sure if something that your company uses in a marketing context can be trademarked, don’t worry. Speaking with an experienced trademark lawyer Bakersfield, CA businesses trust at our Sierra IP Law, PC office will clarify your situation and ensure that your concerns are addressed.
A trademark is generally defined as a “word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes a source of a particular set of goods from another.” Some common examples are the McDonald’s arches, the check-mark logo of Nike, and of course Apple iPhones' bitten Apple logo. Even colors can be trademarked, such as luxury jeweler Tiffany and Co.’s Tiffany blue.
The purpose of a trademark is to distinguish a company within the marketplace. Distinct branding is often critically important to a company’s stability, potential for growth, and ability to retain customer loyalty. Think, for a moment, of what it is like to walk the soda aisle in a large grocery store. When you’re searching for your favorite brand, what are your eyes trying to spy? Chances are that you’re looking out for a particular color, font, and graphics combination that distinguishes Pepsi from Coke, Sierra Mist from Sprite, and Crush from Fanta. This is the power of branding. If every company was permitted to use whatever branding tools they liked, a startup could declare its product to be called “Coca Cola,” it could place its product in a red can with specialty white font and customers would not be able to spot the difference between their old-time favorite and the newcomer. This turn of events would make it harder for customers to get the products they wanted and harder for companies to retain the loyalty of those customers.
By working with the experienced team at Sierra IP Law, PC to formally trademark your branding tools, you will better ensure that your company’s products remain distinct in the marketplace. Additionally, our extensive trademark search process will help to ensure that in branding your product a certain way, your company is not unintentionally trampling upon the intellectual property rights of a competitor. You may not know—for example—that a bakery four states away is ALSO called “Happy Bellies” and brands itself in hot pink bubble font. By taking proactive steps with the assistance of our firm’s Bakersfield, CA trademark lawyer team, you can both strengthen your own branding efforts and reduce your company’s potential liability within the marketplace.
The other three primary forms of intellectual property protection are patents, copyrights, and non-disclosure agreements. Non-disclosure agreements protect a company’s trade secrets. Copyrights govern the intellectual property rights of those who create unique “works of authorship.” Patents safeguard the use and profits associated with novel inventions, designs, and asexually reproducing plant species. The experienced California legal team at Sierra IP Law, PC can assist you with a broad intellectual property protection strategy that will safeguard all of your company’s intellectual property rights—from trademarks to patents and beyond.
No, in California, you are not required to have an attorney to apply for a trademark. However, the process is complicated enough that a trademark lawyer can often save you money both in the beginning and over the life of the product.
In fact, the U.S. Patent office recommends working with an established trademark lawyer when you want to apply for a trademark. That’s because they recognize there are many intricacies in trademark law that make it difficult for the average businessman to take full advantage of the law’s protection and potential for more effective marketing.
A trademark lawyer is an attorney who specializes in trademark law. Trade marking a product can be a complicated venture for a variety of reasons. Having a good trademark attorney helps you in the following ways.
Developing and registering a trademark for your business is one way to give yourself a bit of an edge. In fact, it can be key to developing and growing your business, lending credibility and ultimately brand loyalty. Think about the number of trademarks you recognize and trust.
Working with an experienced trademark lawyer in Bakersfield, CA can be the start of something similar for your business. Visit Sierra IP Law’s contact page. There you will find a form you can fill out and send to begin your journey with them. You’ll also find physical addresses and phone numbers on the same page.
If you are the aspiring owner of a trademark, but have yet to sell anything or provide services along with a slogan or name, then you do not actually have that trademark. To get protection for your trademark, you have to file appropriate documentation and then have a number of meaningful sales while operating under that mark. After submitting the application, the USPTO will review your paperwork. The federal registration for trademark use may take several months or longer. If there is no need for clarification or a different issue then your application is processed.
As your lawyer can explain, trademark clearance is a proactive step that you may want to take before filing your trademark. This determines whether there are issues with marks that are alike to yours within the industry and could hinder your use of the desired trademark. The clearance process will also inform you as to who is using the similar mark now and in what location they are using it. It offers details about registered trademarks that may pose a threat to your registration of the mark, even if they are not exactly the same. Ultimately, trademark clearance can provide helpful insight that will increase your chances of being registered and not facing infringement problems in the future.
You can start using your mark at any point prior to or after filing a federal registration application. This is because common law rights are still in effect regardless of if the mark is federally registered yet. If you filed an application, you must have already been utilizing the mark in your sales or services prior to submission. If no opposition was filed or you overcame an opposition, you will receive a letter from the USPTO called “Notice of Allowance”, where you will have months from that date to file a “Statement of Use” that demonstrates your real-life use of the trademark for your business.
There is no requirement to first register your trademark in the United States before applying for international registration. But, you should file in the same country that you are using the mark to secure its protected use there. Furthermore, most countries have treaties internationally that enable you to file a foreign application, but on the grounds that there is a registration or application in the country or origin. As your lawyer would suggest, those who have questions about trademarks federally and internationally should get advice based on their specific situation and needs.
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