Is your brand making the right decisions when it comes to trademarks?
Making sure your company is moving forward and protecting its interests is a vital process. Knowing that you have set up your business to generate revenue is a clear way of moving forward. But as with every journey of discovery, there are going to be bumps in the road.
Trademark myths have been circulating for years. Recently, we have seen many false beliefs, ideas, and rumors float across the signage and advertising industry.
Curious about trademark misconceptions? Curious about the most common myths about trademarks? Keep reading for answers about trademark myths you should dispel for your business.
Trademarks Are Not Just for Big Companies
Debunking the most common trademark myths that exist today: trademarks are not just for big companies. Sure, big companies can afford to spend more on marketing and advertising, but that doesn’t mean that small companies can’t enjoy trademark protection.
In fact, given the small size of many small businesses, it is often essential for them to get trademark protection to prevent others from piggybacking off of their hard-earned goodwill and reputation.
Many small businesses are run by a single proprietor or a small team of individuals, making it all the more important to have a strong trademark to identify the business and build consumer recognition. Any business can trademark its name, logo, or slogan.
You Don’t Need to Register Your Trademark
This is one of the most common trademark myths. A lot of people think that they don’t need to register their trademark because it’s already been used.
But, this isn’t true. You need to register your trademark to protect it. For example, it puts the public on notice of your claim to the mark and can give you nationwide priority over other users of the same or similar mark.
Trademarks Don’t Last Forever
This is not true. Trademarks can last for a very long time, but they need to be properly maintained.
If a trademark is not used for some time, it can be considered abandoned and lose its protection. They need to be renewed every ten years or so to stay active.
It’s Expensive to Trademark a Word or Phrase
Many people believe that trademarks are expensive to get or that you can’t trademark a word or phrase. But, these myths are not true. Trademarks can be a great way to protect your brand and can be obtained cheaply.
If you are considering trademarking a word or phrase, you should do some research to make sure that it is available and that it would be a wise investment for your business. The process isn’t complicated or expensive. You can do it yourself or hire a lawyer to help you with your intellectual property law.
You Can’t Trademark a Generic Name
The myth that you can’t trademark a generic name isn’t true. If you can show that your use of the name is unique and not descriptive, you can trademark it.
While you can’t trademark a generic term that is descriptive of your goods or services, you can trademark a term that has acquired a secondary meaning. This means that the public associates the term with your specific brand.
You Can’t Trademark an Offensive Term
The truth is, you can trademark any term you want, as long as it’s not currently used by someone else. And if it meets the other requirements for trademark registration.
Offensive terms are trademarked all the time. For example, the Washington Redskins’ NFL team has a registered trademark on the term “Redskins”, even though it is a racial slur.
You Can’t Trademark a Geographical Descriptive Term
Geographical descriptive terms can be trademarked, but some requirements must be met. The term must show to have acquired a secondary meaning. You can do this through extensive marketing and consumer recognition.
The term must also be distinctive, not descriptive. If a term meets these requirements, it can be trademarked.
You Can Only Have One Trademark
The truth is that you can have more than one trademark. So, if you’re thinking about getting a trademark for your business, do your research and make sure you know the facts before you make any decisions.
You can have many product trademarks or services.
Trademarks Can Be Sold
A trademark is a form of intellectual property, and like other forms of IP, you can license it, but you cannot sell it. If you are looking to sell your business, you will need to sell the underlying asset (the business name, goodwill, etc.), not the trademark.
You Can’t Trademark a Color
Color can be a crucial part of a product’s identity, think about pink for Barbie or green for John Deere. But can you trademark a color? It turns out that it depends.
In the United States, color can only be trademarked if used in a unique way that is not functional. Meaning, it serves a decorative or symbolic purpose for the product and is not essential to the product’s functioning. That is why you see a lot of black-and-white logos- because those colors are functional.
If a color is functional, it cannot be trademarked. And if you want to trademark a color, you have to prove that it is distinctive enough to serve as an identifier for your brand.
You Can’t Trademark a Scent
While it’s true that smells are difficult to protect, it is possible to get a trademark for a scent. The key is to be able to prove that the scent is distinctive and associated with your brand. If you can do that, you can get a trademark for your scent.
You Can’t Trademark a Taste
You can’t trademark a taste. This is one of the most common trademark myths that exist today. While you can’t trademark a taste, you can trademark a name, logo, or slogan associated with a product.
So, if you have a unique product with a distinctive taste, you can still protect your brand by trademarking other aspects of your product.
You Can’t Trademark a Surname
A lot of people think that you cannot trademark surnames, but that’s not the case. There are a lot of surnames that have been successfully trademarked.
The reason why people think about this is that they’re seen as being too generic. But if you can show that your surname is being used in a way that’s unique and distinctive, then you can trademark it.
Trademarks Do Not Need to Be Registered to Be Enforceable
While unregistered trademarks may be more difficult to protect, they are not impossible to enforce. Many unregistered trademarks are enforced every day.
The best way to protect your trademark is to register it with the USPTO This will give you the strongest possible protection and will make it much easier to enforce your rights if someone infringes on your mark.
Trademark Infringement Is Not Always Intentional
Many times, people infringe on trademarks without even realizing it. This can happen when someone uses a trademark in a way that is not authorized by the owner, or when they use a similar mark to one that is already registered. Infringement can also occur when someone uses a mark in a way that is likely to confuse consumers.
In some cases, infringement may even be accidental. The best way to avoid infringement is to be familiar with trademark laws. Consulting with an experienced attorney before using any mark that could be infringing.
You Need a Lawyer to File a Trademark
There are many myths surrounding trademarks, and many people believe that they need a lawyer in order to file one. However, this is not the case. Anybody can file a trademark, and there are many resources available to help you through the process.
There is no need to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a lawyer. You can do it yourself, and it’s not as complicated as you might think.
There’s No Such Thing As a Common Law Trademark
For a trademark to be federally registered, it must be used in interstate commerce. Thus, any trademark that is not used in interstate commerce is not entitled to federal registration.
State law may protect trademarks that are not used in interstate commerce. But these protections are generally much weaker than federal protections.
Trademarks Are Not Worth It
Trademarks are an important part of any business, and they can be valuable. Not only do they help to protect your brand, but they can also build goodwill and create a strong reputation.
If you’re thinking about starting a business, you should definitely consider registering a trademark. Trademark services can help you understand the different types of trademarks and the types of lawyers that could help you.
Know the Truth Behind Trademark Myths Today
Many trademark myths exist today. By understanding the truth about trademarks, you can better protect your business and avoid costly mistakes. If you have any questions about trademarks or other intellectual property, be sure to consult a qualified attorney.
If you need more information like this, you can check out more of our articles!