Trademark Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Trademark?

In simplest terms, a trademark is a designation of source for goods. By designation, we mean a source identifier: a name, word, logo, symbol, or phrase, even sound or scent, that serves to identify a manufacturer or provider of goods. To legally qualify as a trademark, the designation (1) must be capable of identifying the provider/manufacturer, and (2) the mark must distinguish the source of goods from other manufacturers. Visit this detailed article for a more detailed explanation of What is a Trademark.

What is a Service Mark?

Like a trademark, a Service Mark is an identification of source for services. By identification, we mean a source identifier: a name, word, logo, symbol, or phrase, even sound or scent, that serves to identify a manufacturer or provider of goods. To legally qualify as a trademark, the designation (1) must be capable of identifying the provider/manufacturer, and (2) the mark must distinguish the source of goods from other manufacturers. Visit this detailed article for a more detailed explanation of What Is a Service Mark.

What is Copyright?

A copyright is a type of intellectual property that protects original works of authorship. Copyright protects written content (literary works), works of art, graphic design, 3D designs and sculptures, photographs, architectural works (works of visual arts), recorded music (sound recordings), and screenplays, sheet music, choreography (works of performing arts). It is possible to copyright a logo. Visit this detailed explanation of how to copyright a logo.

Can I Copyright a Logo?

Yes. It is possible to copyright a logo. In order for the logo to qualify for copyright protection, the logo must meet a minimum level of creativity, which means that simple geometric shapes and font styles will not qualify for copyright protection. A visual arts copyright must contain a minimum amount of pictorial, graphic, or sculptural authorship to be copyrightable. Copyright does not protect familiar symbols or designs; basic geometric shapes; simple diagrams; or mere variations of coloring, font, typeface, or typographic ornamentation. 37 C.F.R. § 202.1.

Here is an example of a copyright registration for a logo.

Does Copyright Protect Words and Short Phrases?

Copyright does not protect names, words, slogans, or short phrases. Words and short phrases, such as names, titles, and slogans, are uncopyrightable because they contain an insufficient amount of authorship. The Copyright Office will not register individual words or brief combinations of words, even if the word or short phrase is novel, distinctive, or lends itself to a play on words.

Examples of names, titles, or short phrases that do not contain a sufficient amount of creativity to support a claim in copyright include:

  • The name of an individual (including pseudonyms, pen names, or stage names)
  • The title or subtitle of a work, such as a book, a song, or a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work
  • The name of a business or organization
  • The name of a band or performing group
  • The name of a product or service
  • A domain name or URL
  • The name of a character
  • Catchwords or catchphrases
  • Mottos, slogans, or other short expressions

Protection for words, phrases, and slogans is provided for under the trademark laws, in particular the Lanham Act. Contact our Trademark Attorney for a detailed consultation to register your name, phrase, slogan, or logo trademark. https://esquiretrademarks.com

How Is Trademark Different From Copyright for Logos?

Copyright law provides significant legal rights and benefits that go above and beyond trademark protection. That is why we advise both trademarking and copyrighting a logo. Copyrighted logos are automatically protected and do not require proof of sales like trademark protection. US Copyright Registrations are honored Internationally in any country who is a member of the Berne Convention. Unlike trademark, you can sue for copyright infringement even when the logo is used on unrelated goods or services. Attorney’s fees are authorized copyright infringement– but are rarely awarded for trademark infringement. Internet Service Providers are more reactive to copyright-based infringement than trademark-based infringement.

We strongly advise both trademarking and copyrighting a logo when possible. Visit our post for more detail about copyrighting a logo.

What Is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual Property broadly describes “creations of the mind” such as inventions; literary and artistic works; and symbols, text, and images used to identify a business. Intellectual Property, or “IP” Laws, are designed to protect these creations of the mind. IP laws generally fit into the following categories: patent law, trademark law, copyright law, and trade secret law.

  • Patents protect Inventions or Methods that are new, useful, and non-obvious.
  • Trademarks protect Source Identifiers. Source Identifiers are text, graphics, etc. that symbolize a business. Trademarks represent the identity of good or service.
  • Trade Secrets protect confidential information that provides a competitive advantage.
  • Copyrights protect original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium.

View more information about What is intellectual property?

What is Patent?

A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product, process, or method that provides, in general, a new and non-obvious way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem.

What is TEAS?

TEAS or Trademark Electronic Application System is the software interface used to interact with the United States Trademark Office (USPTO) when attempting to obtain rights provided for under the Trademark Laws. The TEAS is used for filing trademark applications, communicating with Trademark Office Attorneys, filing responses to trademark rejections, and filing trademark appeals. In order to file documents using the TEAS trademark system, you must be an authenticated user. More information is available at https://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/apply/trademark-electronic-application-system-teas-1

What is the difference between trademark and copyright and patent?

A trademark protects word, phrase, design, or a combination that identifies your goods or services. A copyright protects. A copyright protects created works, such as novels, music, or movies. A patent protects technical inventions, such as medicine.

  • Patents protect Inventions or Methods that are new, useful, and non-obvious.
  • Trademarks protect Source Identifiers. Source Identifiers are text, graphics, etc. that symbolize a business. Trademarks represent the identity of good or service.
  • Copyrights protect original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium.

View more information about What is intellectual property?

Can I trademark a name with slightly different spelling?

No. Minor changes in spelling will not help you avoid a trademark rejection for a similar trademark for the same or related goods or services. Adding insignificant words like “The” or “A” or “Company”. Changing the punctuation, or adding a logo often does not help in overcoming a rejection based on a blocking trademark.

The similarity of the marks is one main consideration when reviewing trademark applications. The USPTO Examining Attorney will look at the (1) sight–whether the marks appear the same, (2) sound–whether the marks sound the same, and (3) meaning–whether the marks have the same meaning. So, if your mark has a different spelling but sounds the same as an existing mark, you will likely be refused for a likelihood of confusion with that mark, and it will not be successfully trademarked.