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What are the Basics of Trademark Law?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 19 September 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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In general, the basics of trademark law depend a great deal on the country in which a person is using a trademark. Federal laws for any country in which a person wishes to do business should be consulted for specific regulations and laws regarding the use of trademarks and the protections that these marks offer. In the US, for example, a trademark can be established by any business simply by using a logo or business name and using a trademark or service mark symbol on it. US trademark law, however, favors those businesses that register a trademark for greater protection and federal recognition of the mark.

A trademark or service mark is an identifier of ownership over intellectual property regarding the identification of a business or similar organization. It is similar in some respects to a copyright, except copyrights protect artistic works and trademarks protect business identifiers such as names and logos. According to US trademark law, anyone operating a business can establish a trademark on the name and logo of his or her business by using a trademark or service mark identifier on official documents and packaging for goods and services. A company that makes hammers, for example, can use the “™” trademark logo with the name of the company that is printed on the hammer packaging to establish a trademark for that company name.

This is a form of common law protection, and US trademark law offers greater protection to those who register their trademarks. To register a trademark, a qualified representative for a business can file the necessary paperwork and filing fees with the US Patent and Trademark Office. Once this is accepted, a business can then use the ® mark to indicate that the trademark has been registered with the US federal government. Due to trademark law in the US, this government registration affords greater protection for the trademark owner.

Trademark law can be different in different countries, but this procedure is fairly similar between them. A trademark can typically be registered with an appropriate government office; a fee of some kind is often required. One of the benefits of registering a trademark in many countries is that the registration can be used as the basis for future registration of the trademark in other countries, making the process easier. US trademark law also allows those who register their trademarks to bring legal action against others who use the trademark without permission, and registration establishes a time line for when a trademark was legally recognized.

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