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Reviewing common questions with trademarks

News and Notes Focused on the 3 Public Faces of IP Law

  • Brand Image Protection - Trademark Law
  • Visual Image Protection - Copyright Law
  • Personal Image Protection - Right of Publicity Law

The Image Protection Law blog has been created in order to share stories and information on the legal aspects of: 1) the marketplace reputation of a company or product captured in its trademark, 2) published or publicly-displayed artwork, photography, and any created visual design, and 3) use of a person's photograph or likeness for product promotion or other commercial purposes.

The "IP3" share at least one thing in common: Image is everything. In these posts let's look at what that means in the realm of intellectual property in the news, but let's also be prepared to explore if there's something more beyond "everything." Don't forget, the intellectual in "intellectual property" doesn't mean smart or brainy, although by nature true creators often are. The word is used to refer to any creation, i.e., a "product of the mind." While this blog will be regularly updated, you are encouraged to share your thoughts on these posts.

Trademarks are a crucial part of the world of intellectual property, but not every person, inventor, writer, or company knows what to do to obtain a trademark or how to appropriately utilize a trademark. With that in mind, we would like to answer some frequently asked questions about trademarks in today's post.

What is a trademark in the first place? A trademark is a legal protection that indicates the source of goods or services. The thing that is trademarked can be a word, name, logo, device, or any combination of the aforementioned aspects. A service mark is associated with a trademark, which distinguishes your service from another.

How do I protect my trademark? In order to protect your trademark, you need to search registered marks before you go about using it. This will save you a lot of time, energy, and investment. Once you know that your trademark is clear for use, you need to use that mark in relation to your service or product to associate the two.

Which trademarks are the most protectable? In general, there are four "tiers" of trademarks. "Fanciful" marks (which are made up or coined words such as EXXON) are highly protected. Then there are "arbitrary" marks (which are real words that don't apply to the product itself, such as Apple). "Suggestive" marks are third, and they suggest that the words used are related to the product (Citibank is an example). "Descriptive" marks are fourth, and they directly describe the product or service in question.

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