by : Michael D. Stewart, Esq.


The importance of obtaining protection for a company's trademarks in the United States and worldwide can not be overemphasized. A trademark is defined in the United States as "a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others." Similarly, a Service mark is the same as a trademark but it identifies the provision of services.

Most people understand the importance of a company name to a business - it helps to identify that business to consumers. Often times a trademark can be a company's name. For example, the COCA-COLA company is also the owner of COCA-COLA trademarks. By protecting its name under trademark law, COCA-COLA can insure that other companies are legally prohibited from using the COCA-COLA brand to identify their products.

Through use of a trademark a company develops "good will" with the consumer, who will buy a product based on the name alone - e.g. many people buy CALVIN KLEIN clothing as they believe the name represents quality and they can be assured that the product that they are purchasing should adhere to this standard of quality. In fact, a trademark is a valuable asset of a company in and of itself. Can you imagine what another company would be willing to pay to use the CALVIN KLEIN trademark on their own clothing lines?

Another valuable aspect of protecting your trademark rights is the ability to give a "license" to others, usually for a fee, to use your trademark on their own products.

While trademark rights are gained through use, registering your company's trademark is an invaluable way of insuring that others will not be able to use your valuable name without your permission, nor will they be able to prevent you from using it. For example, by registering your company's trademark, others will be put on notice under United States law that you have the sole right to use that name in respect of the goods and services you provide.

Once you have registered your trademark in the United States, you are then able to use the ? symbol next to your mark to show others that yours is a mark registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

This article is not intended to provide legal advice, but to raise issues on legal matters. You should consult with an attorney regarding your legal issues, as the advice you may receive will depend upon the facts and law of your jurisdiction.

Michael D. Stewart, Esq. is an attorney specializing in corporate, intellectual property, litigation and international law. He can be contacted at Law Offices of Michael D. Stewart * 335 S. Biscayne Blvd., #UPH00, Miami, Florida 33131 * * * Telephone 1-954-778-1181 * Toll-Free 1-866-438-6574 * Facsimile 1-866-380-8986