If you run a business that produces/creates any type of product or information you should be in the know of trademark, copyright, patent and all other intellectual property laws. An attorney like George Piggott is a valuable asset because he can advise you on all of this. The article below will also get your wheels turning and serve as a good introduction to IP. Check it out and then follow the link to continue reading.
Intellectual Property 101: What Your Business Needs To Know About Trademark Law
Co-author Teri Karobonik contributed to this post*
When you think of a “trademark” you may think of a logo (Apple’s apple logo) or a product or service name (Forbes). You may even assume that trademarks are only a concern for internationally famous brands like fashion companies (Prada) and fast food (Pizza Hut).
In reality, trademark protection extends further than logos and can cover everything from sounds (the 20th Century Fox Fanfare before the opening movie credits), to colors (the “green” on a John Deere tractor), to the design of a taco shop.
Although many of the common examples you hear about are large corporate brands, understanding trademark protection is just as important for startups, independent creators, and small business. So what do trademarks do? They protect consumers from confusion regarding the source of products or services. As your business grows, trademarks become a significant asset because they are the way consumers identify and relate with your company. You also need to know how and when your business can use the trademarks of other companies.
In this second part of this four part series (see Part 1 on Copyright here), we’ll break down one of the 4 main types of intellectual property (Trademark) and explain:
- what trademarks protect;
- how trademark protection is granted;
- whether registration is required,
- when you should apply for it, and if you’ll need help from an attorney to it;
- how long that protection lasts;
- what rights you are granted if you do qualify for protection.
The most frequently asked questions about Trademarks
If you come away with nothing else, you should know two things…
- Trademark laws can protect your brand, logo or slogans but it takes some work to get these rights, and their primary purpose are to protect consumers from confusion.
- You should carefully choose your trademark, because there’s nothing worse than building up a bunch of good will in a trademark someone else was already using.
What do trademarks protect?
Trademark law is intended to protect consumers from confusion related to a product or service’s origin. In other words, when a customer picks up a can of Coca-Cola, trademark law ensures that they’re getting actual Coca-Cola instead of water with brown food dye from a company attempting to take advantage of consumers.