Long Beach Trademark Lawyers
A trademark for a business is very important as it helps to identify the brand owner of a product or service. It is believed that trademarks to identify the maker of a product have been in use since the Roman Empire when blacksmiths who made swords put their mark on them. Using a trademark affords certain protections under both federal and California state law.
What is a Trademark?
A trademark is usually any name, phrase, word, symbol, logo, design, color. sound, device or a combination of any of these to identify a party’s products or services. Although trademarks are typically used by businesses, individuals may own trademarks as well, such as a website domain name. Trademarks may be registered or unregistered and there are both federal and state laws that protect the owners of a trademark.
Common Law Trademark Protection
A trademark does not have to be registered to provide legal protection for a company’s or individual’s goods or services as long as there is an identifying mark in place. When a product or service is sold under a brand name, common law applies, which means the trademark is established by use and not through a governed statue. However, common law trademarks are limited to the geographical area in which they are used.
Under California law, if a product is sold under a certain name, the trademark is only protected in California. Another company can use the same name for the same type of product in Arizona. However, the company from Arizona cannot sell their product in the state of California without infringing on the trademark rights of the California company.
Identifying Registered and Unregistered Trademarks
It is easy to distinguish between a registered and unregistered trademark mark because there are certain symbols that are used to identify them. These symbols include:
TM – This is the trademark symbol that identifies an unregistered trademark and it is written as a superscript, ™.
R – This symbol written as a superscript as an “R” within a circle identifies a registered trademark. ®
SM – Also written as a superscript, this identifies a service mark.
A service mark is similar to a trademark as it claims that right to a logo, word, name, etc., to represent a service that is provided. For instance, a plumber may use a service mark for his logo or business name or a wedding planner may use a service mark for an image or name associated with the services he or she provides.
What is Trademark Infringement?
Trademark infringement occurs with the unauthorized use of a trademark, service mark or a substantially similar mark on products or services that compete or are related to those with an authorized trademark. The success of an infringement lawsuit filed by a Long Beach trademark attorney depends upon whether the average consumer is likely to be confused by the defendant’s use of the trademark. In other words, does the consumer think they are buying the trademarked product or service.
Limits on Trademark Protection
Along with the limits on products or services under common law trademarks, even registered trademarks in the United States have limited protection. While a trademark registered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark office protects a brand’s products or services within the U.S. and its territories, it does not protect them outside of the country. A trademark has to be registered in each country where the product or service is sold in order to be legally protected.
If your trademark has been infringed or you think it has been infringed, you need to consult a Long Beach trademark lawyer about a resolution to the issue. They may try negotiating with the other company to get them to stop the infringement, but they may have to file a trademark infringement lawsuit against them to get them to stop and help you receive monetary compensation for your losses.