Our trademark lawyers help perfect trademark rights for our clients by registering marks in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (federal trademark registration) and in various states and internationally. Our trademark attorneys work closely with clients on all stages of the trademark process, including development, clearance search and opinion, registration, protection and enforcement. Our trademark attorneys handle all steps of preparing, filing, prosecuting and maintaining trademark applications and registrations. Our services do not end with a registration, as our trademark lawyers also work with clients to develop protection enforcement strategies, negotiate licenses, and represent our clients in administrative opposition and cancellation proceedings in the Patent and Trademark Office before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB). The trademark lawyers at Kain Spielman represent clients domestically, across the United States, and throughout the world. We work with many foreign law firms who also specialize in intellectual property to assist with foreign registrations and foreign enforcement of our client’s trademark rights. We also help our clients manage their trademark portfolios on a national and international level, including all relevant renewal requirements.
Registration is only half of the task because registration without enforcement seriously adversely effects trademark rights. We represent clients in all types of trademark related matters and practice in both federal and state courts. Our case experience covers many areas of trademark law, including on infringement, dilution, unfair competition, counterfeiting, and unfair advertising cases. We also handle cybersquatting, domain name disputes, and UDRP cases, representing both trademark owners and domain owners.
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Some samples of federally registered trademarks are listed in the Patent and Trademark Library. General aspects of trademark law are discussed in the following sections:
1. General Definition
A trademark is a word, name, symbol, or device that is used in trade with goods or services to indicate the source of the goods and to distinguish them from the goods or services of others. Trademark rights may be used to prevent others from using a confusingly similar mark, but not to prevent others from making the same goods or from selling the same goods or services under a clearly different mark.
2. Trademarks, Trade names and Consumer Protection
Trademarks and trade names are used by every business to distinguish their goods and services from the goods and services of competitors in the marketplace. Consumers recognize trademarks and trade names as showing a common source, quality control or standard. A central theme in all trademark matters is whether or not the typical consumer is confused regarding the goods or services between two or more competitors.
3. Typical Trademarks
Trademark registrations protect names and logos used in your business. Colors, color combinations, shapes of product containers, sounds, smells and consistent and distinctive themes, such as restaurant decor and structural elements are protectible if consumers associate those devices with your business, your goods or your services.
4. Domain Names and Trademarks
When a domain name is used in a web site banner or in an advertisement as a brand for goods or services, trademark registration is used to protect the domain and perfect ownership rights over the domain.
5. Trade Dress
Trade dress refers to the look, shape, ornamental theme or color combination of a product or its packaging. If consumers distinguish your goods by the look of the product or its unique packaging, from your competitor’s goods or packaging, this trade dress is a protectable I.P. right. Trade dress is a branch of trademark law. If consumers associate the trade dress with those distinctive features of the goods or its package, the look, shape or color scheme may be a registrable trademark. Trade dress does not protect functional aspects of the product. For examples, Click Here.
6. Duration of Trademark Rights
Generally, trademark rights last as long as the owner uses it to mark his or her goods or services. Trademark registrations must be renewed and updated periodically to maintain their status as registered trademark.
7. Generic Words and Descriptive Terms
Generic words or terms do not operate as trademarks and it is difficult to obtain trademark rights for descriptive terms or words. A descriptive term is something that describes a feature, characteristic or function of the goods or services offered in connection with the trademark.
8. Related Legal Fields of Unfair Competition, Comparative Advertising, False Advertising, and Publicity
It is an act of unfair competition for a competitor to infringe any intellectual property right, or to unjustly assert or over-state his or her I.P. rights. Comparative advertising permits one competitor to use another competitor’s trademark, whether registered or not, in an advertisement or other promotional material as along as the use, as viewed by the ordinary consumer, clearly compares the two products or services and does not give the impression that one competitor is associated or approved by the other. Fair competition is acceptable in ads since merchants have used puffery and superfluous statements for centuries. However, the use of the same or similar brand name or product name in an ad is false advertising and an act of unfair competition if there is actual or potential consumer confusion. As for the Right of Publicity, an unauthorized use of a person’s name or likeness, such as a photograph, for commercial purposes oftentimes violates publicity laws.
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