When you go to register your mark, you are essentially asking the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to protect your mark from any unauthorized use. This may be vital to the success of your product or service. Continue reading to learn how a trademark might protect your commercial rights and how an experienced New Jersey trademark lawyer at the Ingber Law Firm can help you attain this.
What are my commercial rights?
Put simply, commercial use is when a trademark is used in relation to a specific product or service. And so, you cannot obtain a trademark as a placeholder from the USPTO if you have not yet operated in the stream of commerce. Instead, you will need customers to have already bought into your product or service.
With that being said, once you enter the commercial space, a registered mark can offer you numerous commercial rights and protections. For one, your trademark will serve as a notice of ownership nationwide. And with this, your ownership will be incontestable after five years of continuous use.
How might a trademark protect my commercial rights?
In addition to using your trademark in commerce, the USPTO requires that your trademark be distinctive before they offer legal protection. More specifically, your trademark must meet any of the following categories of distinctiveness:
- Your trademark is arbitrary or fanciful: meaning, your mark does not have a correlation to the underlying product but instead is inherently distinctive. And through commercial use, your mark will be indelibly associated with your company. You will be granted exclusive rights if you are the first company to use it in commerce.
- Your trademark is suggestive: meaning, your mark suggests a characteristic of the underlying product. You will be granted exclusive rights if you are the first company to use it in commerce.
- Your trademark is descriptive: meaning, your mark plainly describes a characteristic of the underlying product. And through commercial use, your mark will acquire a secondary meaning. Your customers will associate your mark with your company rather than the class of products it is tied to.
Thus, when you meet the above criteria, the USPTO will protect your commercial rights. However, there are times when the USPTO will determine a trademark as generic, and therefore not offer protection. Meaning, your mark will be associated with the class of products it is tied to rather than your company. This judgment may be made with your initial application or over time.
For more information on this matter, consult with a skilled Essex County, New Jersey intellectual property lawyer today.