Riverside Trademark Lawyer
Riverside Trademark Attorney
Trademarks are prevalent in our society. Most of us see trademarks every day, whether we realize it or not. Most companies and products that we know and love have a piece of trademarked content that they use as part of their branding.
Trademark law can be complicated. Whether you are looking to create your own trademark or are facing a trademark violation claim, there is a lot to consider. The laws on this subject are niche and so can be difficult to understand without an attorney’s help.
Small business owners especially need to learn about trademarks from a qualified attorney. When you design your company’s logo, name, or symbol, it’s important to ensure that you aren’t violating trademarks and protect yourself from those who wish to steal your ideas. Though trademarks may seem like a topic reserved for large corporations and established businesses, it’s never too soon to protect your branding. In the event that your company grows significantly, you’ll be protected.
To successfully navigate the world of trademark law, it’s essential to have an attorney on your side to help. Without proper legal guidance, it’s easy to make mistakes and fall victim to false information.
Kinder Law Group: Your Riverside Trademark Attorneys
When it comes to trademarks, copyrights, and other business protections, no one in Riverside knows more than our team at Kinder Law Group. We focus entirely on the small area of trademark and copyright law to ensure that our clients get the very best attention and care available. Our small, focused area of expertise gives our clients the advantage both in litigation and mediation, and we have a strong history of winning cases for our clients.
Our experience in the intellectual property field allows us to provide comprehensive, accurate, and full-spectrum legal advice for any situation that may arise. Whether you are concerned about trade secrets, patents, or trademarks, our team is here to help.
What Is Trademark Law?
Before we can talk about trademark law, it’s important to understand what a trademark is. Any company that wishes to have exclusive rights to a symbol, name, design, or word that represents their brand may create a trademark for it. This legal protection keeps other brands from stealing that particular piece of branding. It also sets the groundwork for legal action if someone infringes on a copyright.
Consider the famous McDonald’s “golden arches.” This image was created and developed as a symbol for McDonald’s restaurants. Most people recognize this symbol and immediately associate it with the well-known franchise. McDonald’s trademark protections ensure that no one else can use the golden arches for their own company. Even if someone opened an entirely different restaurant with a different cuisine, they’d be prevented from using a golden M in a similar font and design to represent their company.
McDonald’s is a famous example, but there are thousands of other companies that are not as well known that have trademarks, too. This helps preserve their market advantage and ensures that no company steals their branding.
Why Do I Need a Trademark Attorney?
The trademark registration process is unique. Unlike some legal processes or documents, trademarks are not an exact science. There is a significant amount of ambiguity in this area of law, and it’s easy to leave your business vulnerable.
Trademark attorneys can help you in many different ways. We understand trademark laws on both state and federal levels, which allows us to help you through the process and protect you from errors. There are many different criteria to meet with your trademark, and without an attorney, it’s easy to be denied.
What’s more, when you encounter a trademark problem or violation, you need someone on your side to take action. Your trademark protects your business, and an attorney protects your trademark. Without an attorney, it’s difficult to see justice for trademark violations and other intellectual property issues.
Elements of a Trademark
Though there are thousands of trademarks in the United States, there are only two criteria to create a new one. A valid trademark must:
- Be unique and distinctive
- Be used for commerce purposes
This means that McDonald’s could not have used a standard M in Times New Roman font as their trademarked logo. This is too generic and not distinctive enough to be approved as a trademark.
This also means that you cannot trademark something just for fun. You must use the trademark item in commerce — that is, use it to sell a good or service, to be considered. If you tried to trademark your family’s last name without a business attached, for example, you would be denied.
When you make a trademark and move to register it, you must do so in a specific class of trademark. This means that you must pick a category that your item falls under. There are 45 different trademark categories, meaning that you must be very specific about what industry you will be working in.
This also gives you more flexibility as far as violations go. For example, if you are using the name Bunkers for your restaurant but find that there’s already a cosmetic company named Bunkers, you would be fine. These are different categories and industries, and you would be free to trademark your item in your class.
This also allows for some flexibility with logos. You may have a logo that’s similar to another logo in another industry, but as long as they are in different categories of business, you will likely be able to go ahead with your trademark.
Classifications ensure that one company doesn’t prevent hundreds of other companies from branding themselves. As long as the industries are different enough, it’s usually not a problem.
The exception to the classification system is famous trademarks. Some companies are so famous and their trademarks so recognizable that no one in any industry may have a similar logo or trademarked item.
Consider Nike’s trademark swoosh. This logo is instantly recognizable, and people all over the world would be able to identify Nike’s shoes just by their logo. Nike’s fame and trademark status prevents anyone in any industry from using a simple swoosh as their logo. This is because anyone who sees it would immediately associate it with Nike, not whatever other industry or company the symbol was for. This logo is too ingrained in the public eye to be ethically used for a different company’s success.
Other examples of famous trademarks include:
- Coca Cola
Though you may be inspired by these companies and their logos, trying to re-create one of their symbols will likely result in trademark violation lawsuits.
To be able to legally protect your business and defend your trademark, you must register it with the proper trademark offices. There are both state and federal options, depending on the scope of your business. When many small businesses are first starting, state trademark registration is often sufficient protection. This means that no other company in your class of trademark and within your state may create a logo, name, symbol, etc. similar to the one that you trademarked.
Though on a larger scale, the federal trademark registration process does much the same thing. By going through the federal government, you’re protecting your trademark in your class for the entire country. This means no similar companies may exist with a similar name or logo anywhere in the United States.
It’s important to remember that to trademark something, there must be substance to trademark. If you create a generic logo, name, or icon, it’s impossible to prevent others from using it. For example, you couldn’t use a plain red heart as your company logo. This is a basic shape and color, and it would be nightmarish to try and claim the shape as your own. There is not enough distinctive content for you to trademark.
When you begin the trademark process, be sure that your trademark is sufficiently unique. It should have several elements and be distinctive to your business. Remember, trademarks exist to protect artists and businesses from being copied and outsold. They do not exist as a trap to make money off of violations. The trademark office makes sure that you can’t take advantage of generic content and sue many different businesses for something that isn’t distinctly yours.
An important criterion for trademark approval is that the item is not “confusingly similar” to another brand. The trademark office aims to minimize confusion and ensure that businesses have their own unique identity in the market. This means that your item does not need to be exactly the same to be rejected by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). As long as it’s close enough to potentially confuse consumers, they will likely deny your application.
It’s worth browsing the USPTO database before you design your brand. Working with a professional can also help you to avoid trademark violations, as designers often have a more robust idea of the trademarks that exist. Though this isn’t a foolproof system, it may increase your chances of having your application approved.
A confusing aspect of the trademark world is the way in which trademarks are enforced. Though you receive your trademark through the USPTO or your state equivalent, they do not necessarily find and punish those who violate trademarks. The database for trademarks is extremely large, so it’s ultimately up to you to take action if someone violates your trademark agreement. You can use trademark search tools and the USPTO database to look for violations or find them naturally in the real world.
Though the USPTO will back your trademark, the cease and desist as well as any reparations come through the legal system. With the help of an experienced trademark attorney, you are charged with ensuring that the offending company changes its behavior. Many people are surprised by this, as they believe that the USPTO ensures that trademarks aren’t violated. On the contrary, it’s up to each company. Large companies often issue cease and desist notices because they have entire teams dedicated to ensuring that trademark infringement does not occur.
Intent to Use
Many people want to apply for a trademark as soon as they begin their business. Though this certainly makes sense, it’s not possible to do so in the state of California. As mentioned above, trademarks must be used in commerce. Trademarks that are not currently used but will eventually be used for a new business cannot be trademarked. Trademarks must already be in use to be accepted. “Intent to use” clauses do not apply in the state of California, though they do exist elsewhere in the country.
The Registration Process
The process to register a trademark is markedly involved, even by legal standards. The USPTO and state offices require a significant amount of information and have frequent deadlines to meet. If you fail to meet these deadlines, your trademark may lapse. Because of the nature of the trademark offices, lapsed trademark applications often require the user to begin again and repay any fees or application charges that apply.
The application process is a key part of trademarking your business, and it is often a key part of how we help our clients. These applications are complicated, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, it can be difficult to execute the process correctly. We can walk you through the application, ensuring that you do everything possible to be accepted on the first try. We help you stick to deadlines and key dates to make sure that you don’t need to begin again just because of a lapsed deadline.
Contact Kinder Law for Trademark Questions
When it comes to trademark law, no one has more trademark attorney services than our team at Kinder Law Group. We can help you with everything from your trademark search and application to enforcing your trademark and dealing with violations. Our wide range of intellectual property experience allows us to represent you and your business in your time of need.
For more information, or to get started, contact Kinder Law Group online today.