Trademarks are a valuable asset for businesses but they can also be confusing. That’s why there’s so much misinformation out there about trade mark registration and trademarks specifically. This article will help you understand how USPTO Trademark Registration laws apply to your business and protect your brand name from misuse or infringement by others.
Generic words in a trademark are not protectable.
A trademark is a word or phrase that identifies the source of goods or services. A generic word, on the other hand, is simply a common name for a product—like “soda” for soft drinks. The question of what makes a mark protectable and what doesn’t can be tricky to navigate.
To determine whether your brand name belongs in the public domain or in your portfolio, you’ll have to determine whether it’s generic (a term which only refers to something) or descriptive (a descriptor). In addition, you must also consider whether there are other reasons why someone might want to use your trademarked brand name as part of their own products/services.
Generic words are not protectable because they’re considered too broad; however, descriptive trademarks may be protectable if theyre not used as generic terms by consumers and competitors a like and if those who hear them associate them with a single business entity instead of multiple businesses producing similar products services under different names.
Businesses frequently use the term trademark to refer to the registered trademarks that reflect their company name, catchphrases, product names, and brand emblems. Although it is not required to register a common word or phrase with the USPTO in order to utilise it in commerce (USPTO).
A true trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of words phrases symbols or designs that identifies and distinguishes the source of goods of one party from those of others. For example:
Because it identifies XYZ as the manufacturer of these snacks, the XYZ COMPANY’S LINE OF FRESH SNACKS label is an illustration of a genuine trademarked label.
The XYZ Company has consistently utilised the phrase over time and it is unusual enough to set itself apart from rival items. Other companies cannot use this same wording unless they have permission from XYZ Company’s legal department via written contract signed by an authorized representative at XYZ Company.
Misuse of Trademarks
If a word is not generic, then it is protected by trademark law. Generic words are common names for things and cannot be protected under trademark law. Examples of non-generic trademarks include:
- “Epson” printer paper
- “Google,” as in the search engine
- “Reebok” shoes
Laws regulating the protection of trademarks have been around since the fifteenth century; however, they have not always been as strict as they are today. There is evidence that certain words like Coca-Cola” and “Kodak” became so ubiquitous that they were placed into common use.
As you may have learned in your high school history class, America was founded by people who were fleeing persecution. While they were trying to make a new life for themselves in this new land, they didn’t have the luxury of knowing what their future would hold.
However, there are some things that we can be reasonably certain about: that these people were resourceful and clever; that they survived using whatever means necessary; and that they had to figure out how to survive on their own terms.
The USPTO has taken steps to prevent this from happening again by restricting the terms for which a business can apply for trademark protection. Common words that are unique in their context to a particular business such as “Kleenex” or “Band-Aid” can be trademarked if they are distinctive enough to easily identify the source of goods. However, generic words like computer cannot be used as a trademark because it is too broad and would limit other businesses from using it.