Legal Ramifications – Trademarks II – Creating Rights

Last time on Legal Ramifications we talked about the definition of “trademark” as well as trademark rights.

Remember I said that the definition of trademark is any word or symbol that comes to represent the goods or services of a particular source.  When you see the Apple logo on any number of products, you know that that product comes from a single company and you know, in general terms, the quality of the goods that have come from this company in the past.  Same with Coke, Taco-Bell or Ford.  It is this power of association and the propensity for consumers to go back to products they like from the same source that makes up the psychological power of trademarks.

The law around the world protects the owner of a trademark from having his trademark used by another and it also protects the consume from getting a product he didn’t bargain for (You probably wouldn’t be too happy with an Apple computer from Nils for example).

In the United States, rights in trademarks are established by use.  Once you start to use a trademark in connection with your goods or services in the United States you are developing rights to the mark.  This is true for a blog as well.  If you have a good trademark for your blog (and I will talk about the strength of a mark later), as you write your blog and more and more people come to associate it with a single source, you will be building trademark rights in the term.

If your use of the trademark goes across a state line, you are using it in Interstate Commerce and you will be able to apply to register the mark in the United States Patent and Trademark Office in Washington, DC.  The registration does not establish rights, but it will give you certain benefits.

Don’t forget, however, that I mentioned last time that trademark rights in countries outside the US are normally created through the registration process and not by mere use.

Next time we move beyond the definition of trademark and creating trademark rights to how to pick and clear a strong trademark.