What is trademark?
Trademark is considered the most widely known intellectual property as compared to others such as patent, design and copyright. A trademark protects an expression that represents a particular product or service. A trademark can be a logo, symbol, design or merely a word. It is used to distinguish a particular product or service from others that is of the same field. However, it is not a tangible asset where one can hold on to it. It is merely an application and registration, upon approval and grant, in the intellectual property office.
Almost all of the countries in the world has an intellectual property office that handles different types of intellectual properties such as trademark, patent, design, copyright and etc. Each country has its own intellectual property rules and regulations based on each of the intellectual property, I.e. some recognize first use of a trademark and some don’t (we will discuss this further down the line). Of course, if you need more information on trademarks and other intellectual properties in different countries, you can always find them through the intellectual properties office’s website.
How does a trademark benefit your brand and how can you make money from a trademark?
A trademark represents a brand. As mentioned earlier, it distinguishes your product from others, especially your competitors. It serves as a marketing tactic. In the present competitive era, where products are no longer unique, unless it really has what it takes, trademark steps in and bring up the value of your product. Studies showed that a product having a brand, or more particularly a trademark, sells off faster as compared to those without a brand, if they were being put up on a shelf simultaneously.
On the other hand, a trademark provides exclusive rights to your brand and no other people except the owner of the trademark can use the trademark to represent your product. If a person uses your trademark, identically or similarly, as the owner, you have the rights to stop him or her from using the identical or similar mark. The term similar herein means that the particular mark is easily recognized as your mark. Since you are the first person creating, filing and using the trademark, you will have the exclusive rights to stop people from using a similar mark.
Compared to other types of properties, trademark is considered tangible. As mentioned earlier, it is merely a registration with the intellectual property office. However, it is still an asset to you or your company (whichever name you wish to file in). In any event that you wish to sell your company to someone else, a trademark is considered as an asset that increases value of your company.
But how actually does it work?
If you have a product and you have created a mark, logo, word or a phrase to represent it, conduct a search at the intellectual office and see if the mark that you have created has been previously used or even filed and registered. In other words, to determine its availability. The world is huge and don’t be surprised that there is someone out there that thinks alike as you and you do not want to infringe other people’s mark. If you aren’t sure whether the search result is clear or you have doubts that your mark is similar to someone else’s mark, try contacting a local trademark agent and get him or her to advise you on the search.
When you are sure that your trademark is exclusive, the next thing you need to do is to prepare a list of goods and services that your product is representing. There is a list of goods and services, as well as classes that represent the goods and services, which you can locate from the web. If you are not familiar with the list and classes, your local trademark agent should be able to prepare the same for you. The list and classes are important. It determines what your mark relates to specifically.
In the event that someone uses your mark for a different class of goods or services, he or she will not be considered as infringing your mark. Therefore, make sure that you are clear with the classes where your products or services fall under.
If you are the designer and owner of the mark, you may consider registering the mark under your own name and address. Otherwise, you may register under your company’s name and address. As mentioned earlier, it can be your company’s asset if you file the mark under your company’s name. Vice versa, the mark can be your asset.
Before submitting the application, you should also be aware that there are official fees payable to the intellectual property office, or more particularly, the trademark office. Different country imposes different official fees. Another important point that you need to be aware is that intellectual property are protected regionally and not internationally. If you wish to market your product in different countries, you need to have a trademark in those countries. There are regional protections in regions such as Europe and Africa.