What does a trademark protect?
The World Intellectual Property Organization defines a trademark as a “sign that distinguishes the goods or services of a company from those of others.” It can be a word, an image, a symbol, or a combination of those that are used to represent a brand.
There are different reasons why a business may need trademark protection. The most important is probably the fact that many of the buying decisions made by consumers are influenced by trademarks. Some trademarks have become household names and even everyday jargon.
For example, Google is now used as a verb: as in you just “Googled” “What does a trademark protect?”, Kleenex is used as a synonym of tissue, and when people talk about the photocopy of a document, many still refer to it as a Xerox.
Believe it or not; some companies don’t like people using their brand names as regular lingo. However, they’re not going to be suing 300 million Americans for using Google as a verb, or charge everyone a royalty fee every time someone says “can you pass me a Kleenex, please?”
What exactly does a trademark protect?
- A trademark protects your brand (a good or service) from infringement or reputation damage caused by another company.
- It gives you legal recourse to take legal action against an organization that uses it to promote or grow their business.
- It provides your brand with inexpensive protection against piracy and unfair competition.
- Trademark protection also grants brands attributes from other forms of property, which means they can be sold, licensed, used as collateral, leased, and more.
After a trademark has been registered, it can be potentially renewed forever. If the brand is being used commercially, registration renewals can be filed every ten years.
How about an unregistered trademark?
An unregistered trademark is one that has not been registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office or a state trademark office. Unregistered trademarks also provide some degree of protection, but it is a lot more restricted than registered trademark protection.
An unregistered trademark provides legal rights within their geographic area of operations. They are governed by what is known as common law, protected by state laws regarding unfair competition.
What Are the Benefits of Having a Trademark?
Trademark protection is part of Intellectual Property Laws, and as a business person or company owner, it is essential that you understand why they are important in the corporate world.
Below, you will find six reasons why you should consider registering your brand as a trademark if you haven’t done it already.
- It is one of the cheapest marketing and communication tools a business will ever have. Your company’s trademark can convey a lot of information in a single image or phrase. This helps consumers quickly decide which product or service they want among many different brands and competitors. Some of this information includes your company’s reputation, its products and services, and more.
- A trademark can cross language and cultural barriers and convey its meaning worldwide. A clear example of this phenomena is McDonald’s. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world when you see that yellow “M” that looks like two golden arches, you know soon enough you’ll be coming across a McDonald’s restaurant.
- Having a company trademark makes it easier for your business to gain online visibility. Considering we are living in the era of digital marketing, this is a significant advantage. Consumers usually use brand names to search for products or services because that is what they have in their minds. A recognizable, trademarked brand will make it easier for potential customers to reach your company and find your products and services. This, in turn, will boost your website traffic and online sales.
- A trademark is your company’s most durable assets. It can give your brand a long-term competitive advantage and provides value outside your core business.
- Trademarks encourage companies to keep their product and customer service quality levels, so consumers don’t associate their brand with a poor experience.
- They are also beneficial for consumers. They help your brand stand out from the rest and avoid confusion in the marketplace. This is convenient for consumers because it lets them easily identify what product or service they want to purchase –and which ones they don’t. It also allows them to get accurate information about the product and make shopping decisions based on what they’ve read, heard, or experienced for themselves.