It is natural to have dreams of great success when you are about to start a business. You wish customers to identify, differentiate and continue buying your product or services for long many numbers of years. Yet, many of us find it difficult to get started. One of the most important steps to take is to choose a mark to identify your product or services.
A mark is a simple name or a design which immediately helps a person to identify the product associated with it. There are many such marks that come to mind – Coca Cola, Nike, Microsoft, Google, IBM, Adidas, and many more, which reminds you of the product or services associated with it. Legally speaking, this mark also associates certain quality of their merchandise. So why is the mark important to your business? For the simple reason, that you want ‘exclusivity’.
This means that you do not wish someone else to use this mark and do business, similar or dissimilar to yours. So you need to trademark your name, which safeguards the distinctiveness and guarantees the exclusivity of your product or services. This is the only way by which customers will know, identify and associate the name with your products. And that is the key to getting them back to buy from you.
Words like patent, trademark, copyright must be crossing your mind right now. This is because most of us are not aware of the subtle differences between filing for a patent and filing for a trademark. Same goes with copyright too. If we understand the differences then we are in a better position to take the next step. You can also get professional help for your invention.
When do you file for a patent? When you wish to protect an invention or an improvement to an existing invention, you apply for a patent. While there are different types of patents, a patent usually protects your invention for 14 to 20 years, depending on the type of patent.
A trademark on the other hand is in reality a brand name. It is part of a product or its packaging, which helps a customer to differentiate between similar products in the market. It can either be a word or a symbol. Copyright is a kind of right given to a creator for any piece of creativity to rule out others from copying, reproducing or publishing his or her works. It is applicable to music, painting, cinema, software, among others. Thus, depending on your needs, a copyright may protect your works or a trademark can offer protection to your brands.
Before you proceed to file for a trademark, it is wise to follow the guidelines mentioned in official documents like Trademark Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services, Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure and Design Code for the logos and images as you can see from various helpful videos for inventors on Youtube. Following these guidelines can ensure the uniqueness of your trademark, right from the designing and planning stage.
One of the most important things to remember when filing for a trademark at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is that they are looking whether you are entering into any area of copyright infringement and are looking for ways to reject your application. The usual areas of name, word or phrase, logo, symbol, design and images used in your trademark must be completely distinctive and unique from the point of view that it should not even remotely resemble any of the existing and patented trademarks. There are many free methods available to you for doing search on the existing trademarks.
For instance, the Patent and Trademark Depository Library (PTDL) has records of all patent and trademarks used in the United States. You can even check the depository manually for ensuring that you are not copying any one else’s trademark in any way. The USPTO website offers enough information on trademarks which you can access anytime, before filing for trademark. The Trademark Application and Registrations Retrieval (TARR) is accessible, if you wish to check the status of your trademark application.