Understanding the Basics: Trademarks 101

What is a Trademark?

Trademarks are words, phrases, symbols or designs that identify and distinguish the source of your goods or services from those of others. Trademarks may be words, phrases, or logos, but combinations of colors, sounds, and even odors have also been registered. Simply put, a trademark is what your customers recognize as your brand, such as your company name, a product or service name, a slogan or logo.

The key word in the definition above is “distinguish.” If your chosen phrase, symbol, design, or logo does not distinguish your products or services from your competitors’ products or services, then it does not function as a trademark.
Trademarks are not only vital to your business, but they’re helpful to consumers because they assure consumers that the marked product they’re buying is associated with your business.

Without trademarks to distinguish your products, consumers may become confused about which product or service is actually from your business. For example, consumers looking for a John Deere® tractor know they’re getting one when the tractor is green and has the jumping deer logo on it. Clever slogans also help consumers. If they’re looking online for insurance from Allstate®, they know they they’re in the right place when they see the “You’re In Good Hands” slogan.

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Types of Trademarks

Trademarks generally come in three formats: standard character, stylized/design, or sound mark. The standard character format is used to register any combination of words, letters, or numbers. The chosen combination constitutes the trademark—there’s no font, size, color, style or any design claimed as part of the mark.

The stylized/design format is appropriate for trademarks that have a design element, or the words, letters, or numbers have a distinctive stylized appearance (e.g., logos). Standard character and stylized/design formats cannot be mixed in one mark. Rather, two applications should submitted to the USPTO, one for the standard character mark and one for the stylized/design mark in order to protect both the simple standard character usage and the fanciful design portion of the mark. Think of the Nike name and logo. Nike wants to protect both the word mark “Nike” and stylized logo swoosh.

Trademarks Explained

Are you ready to file your trademark application? AKeyMark is a patent pending platform designed to simplify filing a trademark application. AKeyMark provides the efficiency of an online self-filing system with the expertise of a trademark attorney. By bridging the gap between business owners and an expert trademark attorney, the AKeyMark platform ensures that trademark applications are filed correctly in a fast, easy and cost-effective way.

For more information, or to apply for your trademark application in as little as 15 minutes, get started here.

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