Posted on Mar 13, 2018 by Sarah Day Hurley
When starting a new business, an entrepreneur has many things to consider, including financing, marketing, leases, employees, and insurance, not to mention a multitude of other details concerning the operations of the business. One item that should be carefully considered when starting a new business is the selection of a strong trademark.
A trademark is more than just a name. A trademark can be any word, name, logo, symbol, or device that is used to identify and distinguish your company’s goods and services in the marketplace.
Failure to select a strong and defensible trademark can cause you to lose investment of time, money and other resources down the road. Thus, one of the most important things you can do for your new and soon to be growing business is to select a strong trademark. The strength of your trademark will determine how much protection will be given to that trademark if your competitors begin to use the same or similar mark in commerce. The strength of a mark may depend on several factors, but generally, the more distinctive the mark, the greater protection it will have.
A generic term, which simply uses the name of the goods and services sold, cannot serve as a trademark and is not entitled to protection. An example of this is using BARBER SHOP to identify a barber shop. A descriptive mark, which is one that merely describes the goods and services being offered, can only receive protection if it has acquired “secondary meaning” in the marketplace. An example of a descriptive mark is URBANHOUZING, used to describe real estate brokerage, real estate consultation, and real estate listing services. Marks that are suggestive, arbitrary or fanciful are deemed the strongest and are entitled to the greatest scope of protection. An example of an arbitrary mark is APPLE® for computers. Apple is an existing word, but its use in connection with the sale of computers, smart phones and other tech products, is completely arbitrary.
Before deciding upon one or more trademarks to use in connection with the sale of your goods and services, you should consult with a trademark attorney who can help you assess the strength of the particular mark(s) chosen and whether such mark would likely be eligible for registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.