What exactly is a trademark? Does every business need one? And what are the benefits?

Many of us can have successful businesses and not find the need for a trademark right away. A trademark, by definition, is a symbol, word, or words, legally registered or established by use as representing a company or product.

 

 

 

When you have a trademark, no other person/company is allowed to use any of the word combinations or symbol(s) in your trademark in a way that violates the trademark itself. For example, a company like Apple has trademarked the infamous apple icon with a bite taken out. You will often see the “TM” next to their logo which shows that it’s a trademark, that can not be legally used any other individual or company. Same holds true for other famous brands such as Nike, Adidas, etc.

 

 

 

Companies do need to apply for their patents and trademarks with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office, in order to receive full ownership and protect themselves from copycats.

The main difference between a patent and a trademark, is that a trademark lasts forever, while a patent is good for 20 years.

 

What are the signs of a Trademark?

  • ™ – This is the most popular symbol for recognizing a trademark. It literally just stands for “TradeMark”. Use this symbol after a logo or phrase and people will know that you have it trademarked, even though you don’t have to formally apply for one to use it.
  • ® – Another version of this trademark symbol, however this one means it’s a Registered Trademark. Which means you can only use it if you’ve formally applied for a trademark.
  • ℠ – This symbol can be used by companies who sell only services as opposed to physical products. It stands for “Service Mark”. However, most companies still prefer to use TM instead of SM because it’s more recognized.

 

Benefits of a Trademark?

  • Once registered, a notice is sent out to any other company that is considering using the same symbol or phrase.
  • The exclusive right to use the claimed trademark. This makes your company unique in that no one else can use the same phrase or symbol.
  • Credibility. Seeing the TM or R symbol is often very visually appealing and shows a sense of credibility, which attracts users to use your services.

 

How can you get a trademark?

A trademark costs anywhere from $225-$350 and the filing process is pretty simple. It can be done through the Trademark Electronic Application.