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The Importance of Trademarks in Business

Trademark is essentially another word for brand or brand name. A trademark can be any name, word, symbol, slogan, or device that serves to both identify and distinguish a business or product from others in the market. Once you have trademarked your business, if someone else makes an attempt to use something similar enough to confuse customers, you have the right to legally protect yourself and stop the other party.

Is Your Business Eligible For a Trademark?

According to US Patent and Trademark rules, in order to be eligible for a trademark, a mark must be distinctive and in use in commerce. If you have a mark that does yet have commercial standing, you can still obtain a trademark by making a good faith argument in writing to use the symbol at some point in the future for commerce. There are four different categories of distinctiveness for trademarks including descriptive, suggestive, fanciful or arbitrary, and generic.

Suggestive and arbitrary marks are considered inherently distinctive with their eligibility being determined by whoever is first to register them. Descriptive marks, geographic terms, and personal names must have an established secondary meaning in consumers' minds in order for approval to be granted. You are not able to trademark a term that is considered generic.

Why You Should Trademark a Business

While it is not required by law, it is a good idea to register the name of your business as a trademark. In the event that another business tries to use the same or similar name, you will have legal recourse to stop it. A trademarked name marks all of your products and services as yours and no one else's and can also protect you from counterfeit products.

Many banks will not allow you to open a business account under your business name if it is not trademarked. Some banks will allow a DBA, which is short for "doing business as." DBA's create a registered fictitious business name but do not provide legal protection like a trademark.

Trademarking also gives you legal ownership in specific locations, be they local, state, or nationwide. With a trademark, you retain exclusive rights to mark your products, with no one else being allowed to use your symbol, name, or slogan in that particular region.

Trademarks are also used as a way of protecting consumers. When businesses are responsible for any products or services bearing their trademark, they tend to take more pride in products. To maintain a good reputation, trademarked companies will often work harder to provide quality services and products.

Trademarks provide protection for both businesses and consumers, making them an important part of running a successful company. The US Patent and Trademark Office offers a trademark database, allowing you to search for similar trademarks before applying for your own. For additional information on trademarks and their importance in business, consult the pages below.