Most IP attorneys would agree that the essence of a trademark is simply to indicate the source of goods or services that are available to consumers, for the ultimate benefit of the consumer. When "consumer confusion" begins to be a problem, we could have a trademark issue on our hands. Getting too close to someone else’s trademark can create consumer confusion, which can provide evidentiary support to a claim of trademark infringement.
A trademark can be any name, word, phrase, logo, symbol, design, image, or combination when used in combination with an offering of goods or services. There are also some untraditional trademarks which can be used to protect sound, color, and even smell. While each state in the US generally has its own state trademark registration system, pursuing multiple state trademarks is generally not preferable over pursuing a single federal registration. In addition, there are many benefits to obtaining a federal registration which cannot be provided by any state trademark registration.
When preparing a new branding strategy, it is important to search the USPTO database for potential brands and determine what space is available. Care must be taken to ensure that the analysis is done for the proper classifications of goods and services. It is much more economical to make branding decisions early, before too much has been invested in starting/growing the brand. It is also important to choose brand that will not be rejected for being too descriptive of the goods/services or viewed as comprising generic terms. Trademarks also must be used properly in order to remain strong and enforceable against others.
Our firm can handle any of our clients’ trademark needs in the USPTO and around the world. We can search/clear new potential trademarks, enforce registrations against others, draft and prosecute trademark applications, and oppose the registrations of others to defend our client’s trademarks. We can also draft and negotiate trademark licenses, trademark purchases and assignments, as well as negotiating settlements when our clients are accused of trademark infringement.