Basic Facts About Trademarks
Trademarks and Servicemarks
A trademark is a word, name, symbol, or device associated with goods in trade, that indicates the source of the goods, and distinguishes them from the goods of others. A servicemark is the same as a trademark except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product. Trademark rights may be used to prevent others from using a confusingly similar mark, but not to prevent others from making the same goods or from selling the same goods or services under a clearly different mark.
A trademark or servicemark is not required to be registered. Rights to use the mark are established on legitimate use of the mark. However, registration has the following advantages:
- Registration provides constructive notice to the public.
- Registration presents a presumption of ownership of the mark.
- Registration is required in order to institute legal action in federal court.
Registration is required in order to file the registration with the U.S. Customs Service in order to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods.
- Registration is used as a basis for obtaining registration in foreign countries.
When a mark is claimed, the "TM" or "SM" designation may be used to notify the public of the claim to the mark.
The designation "®" can only be used after the USPTO registers the mark, and only in connection with the goods and services registered in the USPTO.
It is not required to use an attorney to register a trademark or servicemark. However, as with any complex legal process, it is prudent to do so. Genesis personnel can assist you in locating a competent lawyer for registering your trademark or servicemark.
A trademark or servicemark application must contain a clear drawing of the mark to be registered. For registration purposes, the drawing submitted must be no larger than 3.5 inches square. The drawing page should include the following in the heading:
- Applicant's name
- Correspondence address
- Goods or services listing
- Dates of use or the wording "Intent To Use"
Once filed substantial changes to the mark are not allowed.
Standard Character Drawing
A standard character drawing is appropriate if the mark meets these criteria:
- All letters and words in the mark can be depicted with Latin characters
- All numerals in the mark can be depicted with Roman or Arabic numerals
- The mark includes only common punctuation or marks
- The mark does not contain any design elements.
In this instance no claim for a particular style, size, or color can be made.
A trademark or servicemark containing important design or graphic elements must be submitted as a stylized drawing. The stylized drawing must be a substantially exact representation of the mark as it appears on a specimen (or foreign registration). If colors are to be a feature of the mark, the application must include the names of the colors that are part of the mark and a statement describing where the colors appear in the mark.
Basis for a Trademark or Servicemark
You cannot register a mark simply because you want to reserve the mark for future use, unless you actually intend to use the mark in future commerce. The mark will not be registered until you actually begin using the mark in commerce.