The last blog talked about Patents and Trademarks. Before we move on, another comment about Trademarks. The Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has an extensive web site that allows the filing of a Trademark Application on line. Before going through the process (which is somewhat self-explanatory), I urge folks to find out if the proposed name to be trademarked is actually available.
There are two companies: Thompson and Thompson, and Corsearch, which will conduct a national search to find out whether there are other uses of the proposed name. Please understand that actual use is the strongest trademark and you may trademark a name, only to find that it is already being used somewhere, thereby minimizing if not defeating your trademark.
Also, the ability to trademark and the strength of the trademark depends heavily on the “strength” of the name: is it unique, generic, merely descriptive, fanciful? Has it acquired secondary meaning? What does the name identify-product, category? The word “Apple” cannot be trademark to name a fruit, but it can be used to identify a computer. It is a common name used in an uncommon way. There are many “tricks” to trademarking, so before you go online to file an application, and spend the non-refundable fees, it is a good idea to better understand the world of trademarks. We will move on the Copyrights, the Right of Publicity and Tradenames, next time.