You’ve probably heard of the word “trademark” before. Maybe you’ve even seen the little tiny symbol on a well-known brand. While you might have some idea about what a trademark is, the truth is that very few people know what it is to its entirety.
If you manage a brand, then the term “trademark” will be extremely helpful to know. Don’t worry, PUNCHY has your back. We’ve put together this complete guide to trademarks to tell you everything you need to know, and why you might need to know it!
What is a Trademark?
The textbook definition for a trademark is “a symbol, word, or words legally registered or established by use as representing a company or product.” This is why you see that small ™ symbol tacked onto product or brand names. It’s a way of indicating that the content has been legally trademarked, and is therefore protected from duplication.
You might be wondering how a trademark is different from a copyright. The truth is that they’re really not all that different in terms of definition, but what separates the two is the type of content that they legally protect. While trademarks protect symbols or words, copyrights protect creative work such as videos, songs, or other work. The textbook definition of copyrights is “the exclusive legal right, given to an originator or an assignee to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same.”
Who Uses a Trademark?
You’ll most often see brands or businesses use a trademark, but the truth is that anyone can trademark anything. If you design a logo or come up with a business name and you want it legally protected, you can do so.
So, what typically gets trademarked by companies? Most commonly, you’ll see trademarks for:
- Brand Names
- Product Names
- Phrases or taglines
- Product attributes (such as colors)
The Power of Trademarks
Trademarks are important because they allow brands to be the sole user of a certain recognizable emblem, phrase, or color etc. In a world where brands are constantly competing for differentiation, a trademark gives solidifies brand recognition.
Here’s an example.
A swish symbol. “Just do it.” –– you probably know exactly what brand I’m talking about.
The bold bright red of that aluminum can etched into everyone’s brain –– any guesses.
How about “I’m lovin’ it”? You probably know that one, too.
Or, how about “Done the right way.” No? That’s because that phrase doesn’t belong to any brand (that we know of.) But if it did, it’d be trademarked, and you’d associate it with that brand.
Powerful stuff, eh?
Is a Trademark Right For You?
At this point, you might be wondering if a trademark is right for you, or perhaps you’ve even toyed with getting a logo, tagline, or something else trademarked for a while. No matter what the case may be, if you’ve been wanting something to be legally recognized as something only associated with your brand, then a trademark is definitely right for you. It’s not a super rigorous process, and if see some other brand using your logo, you’ll wish you did.
How to Get A Trademark
Like we mentioned, getting something trademarked isn’t that hard. Here’s how you can get that legal protection with a trademark.
- Make Sure it Doesn’t Exist
If you’re registering a trademark, you’ll want to make sure, first and foremost, that your idea doesn’t already exist out there somewhere and has already been trademarked. Check the Trademark Electronic Search System or Trademarkia first.
- Apply to Register Or Hire a Trademark Attorney to File for you
One way to get a trademark is to apply online on the USPTO website. It takes a little under ninety minutes to complete, and you’ll hear back from the U.S. Patent and Trademark office typically within six months of filing.
Another option is to hire an attorney who specializes in trademarks. When hiring an attorney you will be responsible for a cost which can range from $400-$1000 for each trademark. What you’ll receive from your attorney is the: research, consultation, time to file the trademark, and so on. We believe this is worth the investment to hire a professional to handle the process for you.
- Pay the Fee
There is a filing fee for each trademark you register. You can trademark a logo and a name in one registration, but if for example, you have a wordmark and a logomark you’d like to trademark you will be responsible for two filing fees. Depending on the trademark, you’re looking at about $275 and $325. Protecting that brand identity, however, is priceless.
Trademarks are a wonderful thing and something to keep in your back pocket if you want exclusive rights to your own brand identity. No one is better to tell you this than PUNCHY, we’re in the process of getting a trademark right now! We’d be happy to be your resource! If you’re looking to get creative with your brand identity (and protect it!) PUNCHY is here for you.