What Is A Trademark
Most people have heard of a trademark and understand that having one is important, but they really don’t know what a trademark is, or what one does. It is very important that all entrepreneurs and business owners understand their rights under U.S. trademark law.
A trademark can be a symbol, a word, a figure, a phrase or a mark that is used to claim exclusive properties of products or services. In short, a trademark distinguishes one company’s product from those sold or manufactured by others and gives the owner a protected proprietary right.
Many toy makers are licensees of trademark, which allows them to use another’s trademark. For example, Lego is allowed to make Star Wars-themed toys because it has purchased a license from Lucasfilm. If Lego infringed on the Star Wars trademark without such a license, Lucasfilm could sue them.
A trademark can be a recognizable sign or design or expression that identifies products or services, and the trademark may be located on a product, a package, a label, etc. Commonly recognized trademarks are Nike’s swoosh and Coca Cola’s name written in red ribbon lettering.
Here are some important symbols related to trademarks that you should understand:
|TM||The superscript “TM” is the trademark symbol that is used for unregistered trademarks, which is used to promote or brand goods.|
|SM||The superscript “SM” is the symbol used for an unregistered service mark, which are marks used to promote or brand services.|
|®||The well-known R surrounded by a circle is used for registered trademarks. This symbol should not be confused with the C surrounded by a circle which indicates a copyright.|
To learn more, watch this video from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, “Basic Facts about Trademarks: What Every Small Business Should Know Now, Not Later.”