Protecting Your Business Through Trademarks

Amazon is the most valued brand in the world. Their annual revenue is over $400 billion. And everything you have come to like (or dislike) about the company gets triggered each time you see their trademarked logo: their company’s name with a line from A to Z. That design is what gets you and everyone else to think about their products, services, and values simply by viewing it. Their simple drawing is legally protected because of its ability to incite trust and demand on a significant scale. 

Imagine that someone tells you a coffee shop is being built on your street. What will they sell? What kinds of coffee will they serve? Will it be good? When you drive past it, you see a Starbucks sign out front. Their logo answered every one of your questions. By seeing it, you already know whether you will go there. That’s the power of a mark, and you must protect yours as well. 

How to Protect Your Name

When you began your business, you registered it with the state. Does your state allow others to use your business’s name? Some do. Don’t assume that you immediately have a guaranteed claim on your business’s name because you registered it and that no one else can use it. Successfully trademarking it would. No one can call their company Amazon or use their logo without their consent. 

Trademarks can be words and phrases or logos and designs. There are five types (from weakest to strongest): generic, descriptive, suggestive, arbitrary, and fanciful. A generic mark is a law firm called The Law Firm. These are weak because of how broad it is. Because of how restrictive that would be to other law firms, you will not be able to use it. Descriptive marks are only protectable if there is a secondary meaning—which you will have to demonstrate through long-term use or advertising. Best Buy is a prime example. Suggestive marks don’t describe the product or service specifically, but the general public can link the name to the company through reasoning (e.g., Netflix). 

Strong Marks

The strongest marks are arbitrary and fanciful ones. The previously mentioned company, Amazon, is an arbitrary trademark. There is no direct link between any definition of “amazon” and online retailing—just as there isn’t one between Apple and computers. 

Lastly, fanciful marks are words that didn’t exist before you imagined them. Before the companies existed, no one would have known what a Pepsi or a Rolex was because they created them. Compare Pepsi (a fanciful mark) to the previous example of The Law Firm (a generic mark). Unlike The Law Firm, it is original, unique, and it is highly improbable that anyone else has previously protected it. 

Neve Webb 

Contact Neve Webb for a consultation about registering your trademark. It is challenging to develop a name that cues potential clients or customers to your services while also elevating your mark to the level where it will be approved. Protect what is yours and allow Neve Webb to provide the legal counseling to get you there.

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Neve | Webb Law Firm

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