Brand identity is an essential part of growing many types of businesses, and trademarks are one of the legal tools used to help protect those identities. These protections, which used to be actual physical imprints, date back to early societies for use on high-quality artisan goods. Today, the trademark, indicated with a TM symbol, represents the legal protection of both physical and digital products. They are most commonly used on company logos for big corporations in Connecticut and throughout the U.S.
Almost anything can be considered a trademark, but their strength is determined by a variety of factors. A company with a completely original name, like Xerox for example, has a very strong defense of their trademark. However, a company with a common name, like Apple, has a much weaker defense since the word apple was commonly used long before the company started. They can, however, trademark their logos or specific product names if they are more original.
Unlike copyright, trademarks need to be submitted through the United States Patent and Trademark Office and actively defended. If someone allows their trademarked logo or phrase to be used willingly over time by a third party, it’s weakened in the eyes of the law. There are defensible uses of trademarks if the alleged violators can demonstrate a valid exception. These include things like comparative advertising or fair use.
Individuals or organizations who use trademarks for business may require the help of legal professionals to defend their identities. There are several types of infringement, including the use of identical or confusingly similar works without the permission of the trademark owner. When this occurs, the owner has the right to start civil legal proceedings. In some cases, the plaintiffs have won significant sums from the violating parties.