What Is A Trademark?• What is the purpose of a brand, i.e. trademark
What Is A Trademark?• What can function as a brand, i.e. trademark? – Words, tag lines, phrases, letters or other characters, and Acronyms, – Pictures/graphical elements (e.g. logos), – Colors (e.g. product or package coloring), – Smells, – Sounds (e.g. simple tones, jingles, non-musical sounds, etc.),
What Is A Trademark? Distinctiveness = Strength• Words – XEROX (fanciful) Decreasing Distinctiveness – APPLE (arbitrary) – COPPERTONE (suggestive) – And Sometimes: personal names, descriptive terms, geographically descriptive terms – Generic terms can never be trademarks
What Is A Trademark? Inherent Distinctiveness fanciful/arbitrary suggestive descriptive genericDistinctiveness
What Is A Trademark?• Product Design Trade Dress
What Is A Trademark? Scent Marks Goods Coconut Retail store services featuring sandals and flip flop sandals, and related accessoriesPeppermint Scent pharmaceutical nitroglycerinPeppermint Scent office supplies, namely, file folders, hanging folders, paper expanding files Vanilla office supplies, namely, file folders, hanging folders, paper expanding files
What Is A Trademark?• Guess The Sound Mark: • Answer: – Mystery Mark 1 – 20th Century Fox – Mystery Mark 2 – AAMCO – Mystery Mark 3 – AOL – Mystery Mark 4 – Green Giant – Mystery Mark 5 – NBC – Mystery Mark 6 – Harley Davidson
Selecting A Brand• What makes a good trademark? – Has distinctive capacity – Lacks a likelihood of confusion – The rest depends on the specific facts of your situation • Is this a business name, product name, product packaging, the design of a retail shop, a product design, a distinctive element of your business or product?
Selecting A Brand• Common Pitfalls – Personal names – Names of others, e.g. famous persons – Geographic locations – Descriptive Terms – Generic Terms
Identifying and Mitigating Risk• Identifying Risks: – Selecting a weak or difficult mark – Selecting a mark that will result in litigation and/or forfeiture• Mitigating Risks – Availability Searching and Opinions – Insurance
Identifying and Mitigating Risk• The Search and Opinion – Scope: federal, all 50 states, common law, business names, domain names – Purpose: identify the closest marks and evaluate them for registrability
Identifying and Mitigating Risk• Effects of the search/opinion: – Increases the likelihood of selecting a registrable mark, – avoid wasting time and money pursuing a difficult or marginal trademark, – identify whether your mark is likely to infringe that of another, and – avoid having to abandon a brand after investing in it
Options for Protecting A Brand• Common Law Trademark Rights• State Trademark Registration• Federal Trademark Registration• International Trademarks
Federal Trademark Registration• Benefits: – Registration imparts presumptions of validity, distinctiveness, ownership… – Incontestability after five years – Enforceable nationwide regardless of actual geographic scope of use – Enhanced damages are available – The right to use ®• Approximate Cost: – $325/class plus attorney time.
State Trademark Registration• Benefits: – Less expensive and easier to obtain than a federal registration – Serves as notice to others of your claim to the mark – Considered “competent evidence of registration” – Must use TM rather than ®
State Trademark Registration• Approximate Cost: – Ohio filing fee is $125 – Non-monetary costs: • No incontestability • No presumption of validity • No enhanced damages
Common Law Trademark Rights; the do-nothing option• Benefit: • Cost: – Limited enforceable rights exist for “senior – $0. There are no direct costs. You obtain users” common law rights as soon as you begin using the mark in commerce. – Can obtain a registration later if deemed economically feasible – No incontestability – No presumption of validity – No presumption of ownership – No enhanced damages – Must use TM rather than ®
International Trademarks• What is it? – Madrid Protocol versus Nation-by-nation• Benefit: – Potential cost savings over nation-by-nation filing• Approximate cost: – Varies widely based on: • The number of nations selected; • The particular nations selected (each has its own filing fee); • The nature of the trademark (e.g. whether it is a color or black/white mark); and • Exchange rates.
Conclusion• Screed trademark candidates with the help of an attorney• Get a professional search and opinion• Select the proper form of protection