Trademarks have become an important piece of intellectual property and it is important to protect and defend them from infringement.
A Texas company or business is often identified by its trademark, which may be a symbol, logo, image or even a phrase. The trademark is part of a company's brand and can portray what the company stands for, and the quality of its service or product. For example, the overlaying RR trademark that represents Rolls Royce immediately associates the brand with luxury, quality and wealth. When people see the word "Google" in its multi colors, they think of innovative technology and Internet search tools. As such, it is important for businesses to protect and defend their trademark from any infringement.
Protecting a trademark
Inc. magazine points out that companies should be vigilant in the monitoring of their trademark. This is usually best done through the assistance of a watch service, which can look out for several forms of trademark infringing, including the following:
- International use of the trademark
- National registration of similar trademarks that could be an infringement
- State registrations that violate the trademark
- Website or domain names
Some watch services may even check for products that are similar to the ones the company sells with a similar logo or trademark on it.
However, it is important that companies make sure that they have the legal right to act before they do so, if they believe that a trademark has been infringed. Sending a strongly worded cease-and-desist letter could generate unnecessary litigation and costs, especially if an attorney did not write it. Likewise, it is important to make sure that they are the first company to use the trademark before they start any action.
Defending one's mark
For celebrity athletes and others in the public eye, Athletes Quarterly magazine states that they will need to show their trademark is used on actual products and services. This could include a restaurant, sports equipment, athletic wear and other items. However, if they are basing their defense over nothing more than a hat or shirt that bears their name, they may not have much of a defense argument and they probably will not be able to obtain a legal trademark for it.
Inc. magazine states that trademarks which become the name of a generic product are going to be hard to protect. For example, "aspirin" was a trademark from Bayer AG, but on the market today, there are many brands of aspirin, so the word is no longer a trademark in itself. Heroin, zipper and escalator are other words that have lost their trademark protection.
To obtain the strongest protection possible, companies should choose trademarks that are made up, or that take an ordinary word and transform it to mean something else. For example, Kodak, Viagra and Verizon are all unique, original names so it would be easy for a company to defend the name in court as compared to something like "Charlie's Hamburgers," which could easily be changed and altered. The same is true for Blackberry, which is the name of a fruit but also the name of a cellphone.
The laws and guidelines concerning intellectual property can be complex. Whether businesses in Fort Worth are establishing intellectual property, seeking to protect it or pursuing justice over unlawful use of it, they may want to seek the advice of a knowledgeable attorney.