Archive | Trademarks

Trademark Clearance Searching, Why Searching USPTO is Not Clearance

TMBefore using a mark or applying for a federal trademark registration, it is usually a good idea to first perform a search to determine if others are using the same or similar trademark to yours. The U.S. grants trademark rights based on use alone and not only on registration. Therefore, searching the USPTO trademark database alone is not sufficient to determine whether your mark is clear for use. As explained below, you need to have performed a comprehensive trademark search to be sure your proposed trademark is clear for use. You can think of trademark searching as insurance against the risk that someone will later assert the use of your mark infringes their prior rights, which may result in legal and name change costs.

The Problem with Not Searching
If …

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What is a Trademark: Usual and Exotic

CircleR_RegisteredTMA trademark includes almost anything that is used by a person or entity to identify a product or service. This includes product names, company names, logos, slogans, service names, slogans, taglines, colors, product packaging, product shapes, symbols, sounds, fragrances, flavors, and domain names. A trademark functions to identify and distinguish goods and services from those manufactured, sold, or provided by others and to indicate the source of the goods or services, even if the source is unknown. Trademark registrations can be renewed forever as long as they are being used with the corresponding goods or services in commerce.

Below are several types of trademarks. First are the standards word and logo marks and the more exotic marks like sounds, product shape, and fragrance, among others, follow. Click here to skip straight

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Invention, Design, & Branding Lessons from Apple’s Lead Designer Jony Ive

JonyIveThe GeniusBehindApplesGreatestProducts

“In a company that was born to innovate, the risk is in not innovating. . .The real risk is to think it is safe to play it safe,” said Jony Ive, the lead industrial designer for Apple.

Jony Ive is the subject of Leander Kehney’s book Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products . Steve Jobs, deservedly,  gets a lot of attention and credit for the success of Apple products. However, Jony Ive is the man behind many of the decisions about and features of Apple’s products.  The book is not an authorized biography. Yet, it provides insights into the product innovation process and product development process at Apple. It also demonstrates how product design alone can indicate a brand to customers.

Design Alone Can Carry Branding without a

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Words or a Logo or Both in a Trademark Application?

LogoWordCombinedTrademarkApplicationIf your trademark includes words, letters, or numbers, before filing a federal trademark application you need to determine whether you will include any logo or stylistic element(s) as a part of your claimed trademark in the application. This is true because the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office asks you to specify whether or not you are claiming with your mark any font, style, size, color, or graphics. Marks without a claim of any of those style elements are known as standard character marks. Marks with any of those claims are known as special form (styled and/or design) marks.

If your mark is a combination of words or characters with a logo or design elements, it can be, but it is not always the best approach to claim the logo and …

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What is Trade Dress?

CocaColaBottle

Trade dress recognizes that product/service packaging or the product appearance itself can act as a source identifier in the same manner as more traditional trademarks, like names and logos. In other words, in some circumstances the product packaging or the product appearance can be so uniquely tied to one company or source of goods/services that the packaging or the product appearance indicates to the customer the source of the goods/services. Many times the trade dress of a product allows the consumer to recognize the source of that product from the product packaging or the product appearance alone without any brand or logo appearing with it.

Product and Service Packaging
One example of product packaging trade dress is the classic Coca Cola bottle shape. Coca Cola has a registered trademark (…

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How To Choose a Strong Trademark

Trademark Strength

Not all trademarks are equal in strength. The strength of a mark is a measure of the extent and scope of protection provided for the mark under trademark law. As shown in the diagram, strong marks have a bigger buffer or protection moat around them and thus prohibit competitors from operating within that buffer. Weaker marks have a smaller buffer. The smaller buffer allows competitors to use marks that are more similar to a weak mark than would be allowed for a strong mark, all other things being equal. This post explains how to select a strong trademark so you can keep your competitors at a larger distance from you in terms of the similarity in the marks that competitors use.

A strong mark is one that has a greater …

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Eric Waltmire Presenting on IP for Dupage’s REV3 Innovation Center

Rev3On March 11, 2014 at 6:30pm, REV3 Innovation Center of Dupage is hosting me for a presentation on Strategies for Protecting Intellectual Property: Innovation and Branding. Intellectual property plays a role in adding value to most businesses, whether through invention, branding, or the use of other creative works.

My presentation will help business owners, entrepreneurs, and inventors understand how patents and trademarks can be used to protect innovation and business branding. It will provide strategies for protecting intellectual property rights under various scenarios and funding circumstances. Sign up here to attend.

Particularly the presentation will cover the following.

Patents and Invention Protection:

  • What is patentable
  • Patent Searching
  • The U.S. Patent Application Process
  • When to maintain secrecy and when to publicize
  • Seeking Foreign Patent Protection
  • When not to seek
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Use Based v. Intent-To-Use Trademark Applications

There are at least two types of federal trademark applications. The first is a use-based trademark application, also known as a section 1(a) application corresponding to the section of the law that authorizes the application. The second type is an intent-to-use application also known as a section 1(b) application.

Use-Based
A use-based application is one where the applicant is already using the mark in commerce at the time when the application for federal trademark registration is filed. Use of the Mark in commerce can include shipping or selling the goods with the mark or rendering services after advertising those services with the Mark.

Intent-to-Use Based
An intent-to-use application is one where the applicant has not used the mark in commerce or business at the time that the application is filed. …

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What Happens After A Federal Trademark Application is Filed?

TrademarkApplicationFiled-001Generally an applicant should not be too concerned with how long it takes to obtain a federal trademark registration at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Once your trademark application is filed, later filed applications by others are less of a concern. Further, in the United States, trademark rights accrue based not only on registration but also on use. Therefore simply by using your trademark in commerce you can begin to generate common law rights which you can assert even before you obtain a registration. This article will explain the process and the general timing of events after an application is filed.

Trademark Office Approval Is No Guarantee of Freedom to Use Mark
Approval of a trademark application by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) does not guarantee …

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Should I File for a State or Federal Trademark Registration?

FederalTrademark_vs_StateTrademarkNow that you determined that you need to seek a trademark registration. The next question is what type of registration should you seek: a registration from your state or registration from the federal government? The answer is the federal government in most cases and here’s why.

Costs
State trademark registrations cost less. The government fees for state registration depend on the state but tend to be less than a federal registration. For example, an Illinois state trademark application has a $10 registration fee. Whereas a federal trademark application at the United States Patent & Trademark Office has a fee in the range of $275 to $325 per class of goods/services declared in the application.

Geographic scope
The scope of protection provided by state trademark registration depends on the state, but …

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