What Does an Trademark Lawyer Do?
A trademark lawyer is a lawyer that specializes in trademark issues, which are a subcategory of intellectual property law. Trademarks are words, phrases, logos, or other symbols that are used to identify a product, the source of the product, and the manufacturer or merchant. Trademarks are typically used to distinguish one product and the manufacturer from another.
A trademark lawyer will help you with any issue related to a trademark. This can include a trademark search. Prior to registering your trademark, it is essential to run a search to determine whether another business or entity is already using that trademark. It would be devastating to create a business name, run ads, create brochures and other specific items just to be forced to change your name later on because you did not run a trademark search.
Why is it Important to Have a Trademark Attorney?
It is very important to have a trademark attorney assisting you with anything related to your trademark. A trademark is the mark of your business and the thing that makes customers recognize your product. You want to protect that mark as well as your profits.
There are many different types of trademarks, including:
- A service mark, which promotes a particular type of service;
- A trade dress, in which a product is known for its special packaging, or trade dress;
- A collective mark, which is a symbol, word, or phrase used to identify a group, organization or association, and the products, services or members of the group; and
- A certification mark, which is a symbol or name used to guarantee the quality of another’s service or product.
It is especially important to have a trademark attorney helping you with your trademark search. Prior to choosing your trademark name, you and your lawyer should conduct a search to ensure a similar trademark does not already exist. If you use a trademark that is the same as or similar to another individual’s registered trademark, you may be held liable for damages as well as the registered owner’s attorney’s fees. In general, a court will presume that an unregistered trademark owner was aware of the registered trademark, even if they did not.
A trademark search should be conducted prior to filling out an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to determine whether the trademark is already in use. Failing to do so could result in your being forced to change your trademark, which could have devastating effects on your business.
What are Some Other Issues Related to Trademark Law?
Once you have done a trademark search and chosen your trademark name or logo, your attorney can assist you with registering your trademark with the USPTO. After your trademark is registered, you will be protected against copying or duplication. Registration also puts the rest of the country on notice that your trademark is already discovered and registered.
In order to register your trademark with the USPTO, you must intend to use the trademark on products or services that are used nationally and affect trade and commerce. There are some reasons your trademark may not be registered with the USPTO, including:
- The trademark is identical or similar to an existing trademark or related goods or service;
- The trademark is on the list of prohibited trademarks or the reserved trademark list; or
- The trademark is too descriptive and, therefore, does not qualify for protection.
It is important to note that once the trademark is approved, it will be registered for 10 years. 6 years into that 10 year period, you must file a form indicating that the trademark is still in use. If this form is not filed, the registration may lapse. Your trademark attorney can help you keep up with these as well as any other requirements related to your trademark.
What are the Benefits of Hiring a Trademark Law Attorney?
There are numerous benefits to hiring a trademark attorney. If a trademark is part of your business, an attorney in an investment in your future. Once your trademark is registered, it is entitled to protections under federal law if it is used without permission.
Your trademark will be protected from infringement and dilution. Infringement occurs when an individual uses the same or similar trademark for a similar good or service. Dilution occurs when an individual uses a well-established trademark for another service but either tarnishes the trademark’s good name through its use or weakens the consumer’s association between the services and the trademark.
Your trademark attorney can ensure you meet all deadlines and fulfill any requirements for your trademark application. Your attorney can also conduct ongoing research to ensure no one else is using or diluting your trademark without your permission. If any issues arise, your attorney can guide you through the difficult and strict procedural requirements for litigation and fight to protect your trademark.