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Some Basic Things About Intellectual Property and Trademarks

Intellectual property laws are in effect in the United States. These laws, which protect the rights of those who create original works, are specifically are aimed at:

  • Providing protection for ownership of intellectual properties, meaning any form of invention or work, either material or non-material, which are fruits of an inventor’s or author’s mental labor;
  • Excluding anyone from using such properties for their own end; and,
  • Allowing owners to gain profit from their work – this is in recognition of the time, effort and money used by owners in the production of their works .

Laws that protect intellectual properties have four categories:

  • Trade secret. This protects all vital information, which keep firms or organizations successful, against illegal or unauthorized disclosure;
  • Patent. The patent law, protects material inventions, such as machines, industrial processes, chemical compositions, and manufactured articles, from being made, sold or used by others;
  • Copyright, which safeguards written and artistic forms of expression, like paintings, literary pieces and songs; and,
  • Trademark, which is protection on symbols, logos, slogans, marks, etc., which directly identify providers of services and/or goods.
  • A trademark, specifically, is a recognizable logo, brand, emblem, sign, mark, stamp, symbol, badge, crest, monogram, colophon, phrase, or a combination of any of these; this is the identifying mark of the brand owner of a particular product or service.

Symbols that designate trademarks include:

1) ™ – a superscript symbol used by owners to promote or to brand their goods. This symbol is used if the trademark is unregistered.

2) ℠ – a superscript symbol used by owners to promote or to brand their services. This symbol is used if the trademark is unregistered.

3) ® – this superscript symbol is used by owners to promote or to brand their goods or services. This is symbol used if the trademark is registered.

Legal action against trademark infringement may be pursued by owners whether their trademark is formally registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or recognized only through common law. However, as explained by Dallas intellectual property attorneys of Gagnon, Peacock & Vereeke, P.C., by formally registering a trademark, a business will have additional legal protection and legal benefits, such as:

  • Public notice of claim of ownership of the mark;
  • Legal presumption of ownership in all U.S. states; and,
  • Exclusive right to use the trademark on the goods or services or in connection with the goods or services.

One very important thing that small businesses and those formally registering their trademark for the first time must know is that the trademark registration process is a legal proceeding which requires acting within strict deadlines. First time registrants may find it advantageous and definitely much less stressful if they are to leave to an intellectual property attorney the concern of having their trademark registered.