Trademark Law

Trademark law protects a business’ reputation and goodwill. It also prevents other businesses from using similar marks. It is a form of intellectual property, and it is governed by state and federal law.


In the United States, trademarks are enforceable through private lawsuits in federal court. A mark can include words, symbols, designs or even sounds. However, descriptive terms cannot be trademarked unless they achieve secondary meaning.

Trademarks are a form of intellectual property

Trademarks are words, symbols, logos, and designs that identify the source of a product or service. They also help protect your business from counterfeiting and false advertising. Trademarks are a key part of intellectual property law.

To be protected, a trademark must be distinctive. Courts generally classify marks into four categories: arbitrary or fanciful, suggestive, descriptive, and generic. Arbitrary or fanciful marks are those that bear no logical relationship to the underlying product, such as the Nike swoosh and the names of Exxon and Kodak. These are the most distinctive and receive the highest level of protection. Descriptive marks describe the characteristics or qualities of the underlying product, such as the color blue for Nike shoes. They qualify for protection after a period of use in commerce and after they have acquired secondary meaning. Generic marks are those that describe a general category of products, such as computers or apples. Generic marks are not protected under trademark law, although they may be used in fair competition with the owner’s mark.

Once a mark is registered, the owner has the right to sue anyone that uses it without permission. This is called trademark infringement and the plaintiff can win monetary compensation, including profits from the infringement and legal costs. In addition, the plaintiff can obtain injunctions to prevent further infringement.

They are governed by state and federal law

Trademarks are words, symbols, and phrases that identify products or services. They can include anything from corporate logos to a song’s melody to the distinct sound of a Harley Davidson engine. They can also include unique physical aspects of a product, such as the shape or color of an object. Trademark law protects these features, but only if consumers associate them with a particular manufacturer. The Nike swoosh, the blue Tiffany box, and the distinctive sound of a Google search are examples of trademarks.

A trademark infringement lawsuit involves the use of a mark without permission from the owner. This can confuse consumers and damage a brand’s reputation. The plaintiff must prove that the mark has been diluted, blurred, or tarnished. The court may order the defendant to stop using the mark and award monetary compensation.

The legal framework for trademarks is based on international treaties and national laws. The World Intellectual Property Organization’s Lex database is a useful resource for finding legal information. The trademark law in most jurisdictions allows the owner of a registered mark to prevent others from using it for similar products or services. This is called trademark infringement and can lead to a loss of customer loyalty.

There are two types of trademarks, commodity marks and service marks. Commodity marks show the source of goods, while service marks distinguish one service from another. Commodity marks can be used by anyone, but service marks require registration with a regulatory authority.

They are a key part of branding

Trademarks are words, symbols, or designs that identify the source of a product or service. They can also be used to distinguish products from competitors and to promote them. Examples of trademarks include names of restaurants, movies, bands, or logos. In the United States, trademarks are protected under federal law and can be registered in several categories. In addition to registration, a trademark owner can file an action for trademark infringement if it believes that another party is using its mark in conjunction with products or services that are likely to cause confusion.

Trademark law covers not only word and design marks but also colors, smells, sounds, or other features of a product. However, such identifiers cannot be locked up for exclusive use by the product manufacturer. Moreover, they cannot be used to describe the characteristics of a product in a way that confers a competitive advantage on the manufacturer. For example, the unique shape of a Coke bottle is not protected as a trademark because it does not serve to indicate that the product comes from one specific company.

Trademark law allows owners to sue for infringement, but they can only win if their mark is “famous.” A famous mark has acquired secondary meaning in the mind of consumers. This distinction between a commodity mark and a service mark is important, as it determines whether a trademark can be enforced against others for dilution, blurring, or tarnishment.

They are a form of advertising

Trademarks are words, symbols, phrases, or designs that identify the source of goods and services. They help consumers distinguish products from one another and provide legal protection for companies. They can be used by both businesses and individuals, and can include corporate logos, slogans, bands, or brand names. Trademarks can also be used to identify and protect service marks, which differentiate services from their underlying components. Trademarks are important for businesses because they allow them to build their reputation in the market and attract customers.

Trademark law prohibits anyone from using a mark that is identical or confusingly similar to an existing mark without the owner’s permission. It is a form of unfair competition and can result in damages. However, there are some circumstances in which trademarks can be used fairly. For example, comparative advertising is a fair use of a trademark and does not confuse consumers. In addition, trademarks can also be protected under the federal antidilution statute (15 U.S.C. SS 1052), which grants additional protection to famous marks.

Unlike copyright, which provides criminal penalties for infringement, trademark law is almost exclusively enforced through private lawsuits. Although there are some exceptions, it is essential for a business to have a strong portfolio of registered trademarks in order to protect its rights and prevent others from copying or misusing their name.