Your business may offer the highest-quality products and services in the entire world. However, unless your target consumers are aware and remember your business, you might struggle with growing your business. This is where trademarks come in.
Trademarks are basically words, designs, symbols, or phrases used for identifying the sources of products or services. Aside from protecting a company’s name, laws that govern trademarks likewise protect a company’s logo.
Think Apple’s apple logo and Nike’s checkmark logo. If an infringing company tries to use these logos or names, the company that owns the trademarks to these may go to court to request an injunction. This is basically an order to stop the infringing company from using those names and logos.
The Importance of Trademarks
Two main policy ideas are considered cornerstones of trademark law. First, it aims to prevent confusion for consumers. They might be tricked into purchasing lower quality products if competing businesses can just use trademarks of other, more established businesses.
Second, the company’s business would suffer because they invested their resources into developing their products only to be taken advantage of by unscrupulous infringing companies. While not legally required, for the most comprehensive protection for your trademarks, you should register them with the USPTO or the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Do note though that if you choose not to register your trademarks, you’ll still be protected under local protection laws. Let’s say that you own a shoe shop in your local community and suddenly find out that another shoe shop opens the next street over, with almost the same name and logos as yours.
In this case, you might be able to file a lawsuit in state court against the infringing company. You can sue them for unfair competition and trademark infringement even you haven’t registered your trademarks with the USPTO. In your lawsuit, you could request that the court order the infringing company to move its shop into a totally different geographic territory or change its logos and name to avoid confusing your clientele.
Trademark Protection Limitations
Take note that trademarks here in Utah can’t safeguard all the “unique” features of your business. If your business in Utah is well-known for the best pizza in your state, your recipe can’t be protected with a trademark, but trade secret law instead.
Likewise, if your company is the sole manufacturer of a certain kind of machine, your machine’s configuration can’t be safeguarded by a trademark, but by patent law instead. Additionally, if you publish books, those original stories won’t be protected by trademark law, but by copyright law instead.
Put simply, trademarks mainly safeguard your brand, but not your main services and products. Likewise, keep in mind that not every single element of your company’s brand will be automatically qualified for trademark protection.
With that said, it is in your company’s best interest to employ other kinds of intellectual property protections to ensure that your brand will be sufficiently protected from malicious companies looking to make a quick buck.