A trademark or trade name indicates the origin of goods and services, respectively. Improper use of a trademark or trade name may confuse the public, and cause serious problems for those who are the real owners of the marks.
Therefore, to ensure the greatest protection, the trademark or trade name should be registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Origin & Quality
Throughout history, trademarks and trade names were not only indicators of origin, but also of quality. Over time, people associated a particular name with a product or service. However, there were those who advertised and marketed similar goods and services, but falsely sold them as originating from the known provider. When this happened, trademark laws were passed to prevent deception and confusion, and to prevent the misrepresentation of good names.
Goods & Services
A trademark is usually associated with goods, while a service mark is generally associated with services. However, the protection afforded the two are basically the same, and the names are used interchangeably. In addition to names, slogans or phrases associated with a particular product or service may be given federal trademark protection.
Under Owner’s Control
If properly registered, the use of a name, slogan, or phrase associated with a product or service is in the exclusive control of their owner. Any use of the name, slogan, or phrase by another without the owner’s permission is prohibited because it is likely to cause confusion or dilute the good will of the original trademark.
Use of Common Names
Colors and common names usually cannot be given federal trademark protection. And the more descriptive the name, the more difficult it is to obtain federal trademark protection. For example, the Trademark Office will most likely reject the mere name “napkin” because of its common use.
It is important that a product or service be properly named in order to avoid confusion with other competing brands. Assistance in creating and registering a trademark is highly recommended.