Your trademark is your mark. It separates you from other products. And this includes all that goes into creating your product or services: your values, research, and expectations.
A trademark entails the logo, symbol, design, or words that distinguish your company. When people see it, they know what they will get—or not get—when they buy something from you.
Having a solid trademark is more than a suggestion. It must be unique for the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) to approve your mark. Their strict guidelines only work in your favor. You don’t want anyone else to mimic your trademark—using your branding to apply to their products or services.
Evaluating the Strength of Your Mark
There are 5 different categories your mark can fall under (from weakest to strongest):
A fanciful mark is the strongest trademark. And it has the highest chance of being approved by the USPTO. Can’t think of a way to make your company unique? Make up a word. Google and Rolex are two examples of fanciful marks. Why do they have a good chance of being approved? Because they are made-up words and likely have not been used before—nor are you infringing on someone else’s mark.
Arbitrary marks are still strong, but they are not made-up words. The words usually have no direct connection to the product. Apple and Five Guys are two examples. Neither term applies directly to the product.
Suggestive marks tie closer to the product. Netflix (internet and “flicks,” i.e., movies) is a suggestive mark. However, something like KFC is a descriptive mark because it describes the product. The trademark speaks to what the product is. Whereas Apple doesn’t sell produce, The Weather Channel tells you what you are getting when you watch it.
The lowest and least likely mark to get approved is a generic one. This merely tells what the product is—and uses less creativity than the descriptive mark. Calling yourself The Law Firm is a generic mark. And it could be applied to any number of actual law firms. Granting someone a trademark for something this generic is highly improbable (if not impossible) solely because too many other people use the term.
Why You Need A Strong Mark
Strong marks not only get approved, but they offer a level of protection. The stronger they are, the less likely they are to be challenged. And if they are challenged, you have a better chance at overcoming it.
Secondly, your mark allows your business to stand out. People associate Rolex with watches as instantly as they hear the brand. People may even refer to a tissue as a Kleenex. Successful branding can have a direct impact on sales.
Bashirah Martin, PLLC Attorney at Law
Your trademark can be a way of selling your product or services to the public. Because it is vital to your business, protect it. Intellectual property can be as valuable—maybe even more so—than physical creations. If you need legal assistance with getting your trademark approved, contact Bashirah Martin, PLLC, to schedule a consultation.