The most basic rule in filing a trademark is pretty simple: the mark should be descriptive and uncommon so it can best depict who or what the trademark is for. The task may seem simple but it’s not exactly the case as the many trademark disputes will prove. It’s also not enough to have a unique name but it also shouldn’t be reminiscent of another trademark.
The best example for the need of a unique mark is the case between the ‘3M’ trademark of the Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Company and the ‘3N’ trademark of the Changzhou Hua Wei Advanced Material Co. Ltd. of China. 3M filed a lawsuit against 3N for infringing their registered trademarks.
3M is widely known around the globe for their adhesive products. 3N, on the other hand, sells retro-reflective film for automobiles. Both brands sell the same kinds of products which can lead to confusion among consumers.
With the addition of the similarity of the appearance of the symbols and other significant factors, the courts found 3N to have deliberately emulated 3M’s trademark. As a result, they were ordered to pay 3M RMB 3.5 million for the damages the trademark infringement has caused.
This case shows that it’s not enough to have a different name, especially if it’s evident that a brand is capitalizing on the fame of another business. A truly unique name could have saved the 3N brand a lot of money.
Protecting your trademark starts right at the beginning even before you file for a trademark and from then on it will be constant vigilance until the day the trademark is extinguished, by purpose or default.
With the further evolution of the internet, your trademark gets broader in audience which is beneficial but occurrences of trademark infringement happen in the internet more than you might think.
A stronger type of name for your trademark must be suggestive and creative that exudes the unique nature of your goods or services. A much stronger type of name would be characterized as fancy and random.
After choosing a name, check if somebody else is using it with the Patent Office. A deep research into names must be done because there are common-law trademarks, businesses that already used the name though they may not have registered it.
R [®] inside a circle for marks registered federally; ™ for common-law trademarks; SM for common-law service marks. Also, if you have a website, put trademark language at the bottom of your homepage.
Names such as “aspirin,” “zipper,” and “escalator,” were originally trademarks owned by big corporations that had come to accept the fate of losing their trademark.
Weigh your time, money, first to use and the strength of your trademark; if it is heavy, defend your trademark.
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