Trademarks allow consumers to recognize a particular company as the source of particular products and services that they trust. Practically anything is capable of functioning as a trademark, including a word, a phrase (McDonald’s corporation “I’m loving it”), a letter or letters (F for pocketbooks), a number or series of numbers (346 for clothing), a pictorial scene, a smell (a fresh fruity fragrance reminiscent of oranges for paint strippers), a sound (the sound of a ringing cash register for notification services that funds have been deposited), a color (pink for insulation), packaging, (a fanciful bottle or label for alcoholic beverages) and product configurations (the shape of a lamp, for example). A trademark gives a business protection against the unauthorized use of the mark. However, to enforce this legal protection a business should always register the trademark with the United States Trademark Office. Our New Jersey trademark lawyer is here to help. Contact the Ingber Law Firm today.
Trademark Lawyer Serving Clients in New Jersey
A skilled Essex County intellectual property lawyer from the Ingber Law Firm can assist you with all aspects of federal trademark law in New Jersey including:
- Trademark registration
- Trademark protection and litigation
- Defense against claims of trademark infringement
How U.S. Trademark Law Protects Your Commercial Rights
To qualify for legal protection, a trademark must be used in commerce and must be distinctive. There are four categories of distinctiveness:
- Arbitrary/fanciful. These marks bear no logical relationship to the underlying product, but are inherently distinctive and through their use in commerce become indelibly associated with a particular company. Courts determine exclusive rights based only on priority of use.
- Suggestive. These marks evoke or suggest a characteristic of the underlying product. As with arbitrary/fanciful marks, exclusive rights go to the first company to use them in commerce.
- Descriptive. These marks overtly describe a characteristic or quality of the product. To qualify for protection, the mark must acquire a secondary meaning through its use in commerce. The buying public must primarily associate the mark with a particular company rather than a class of products.
- Generic. Because generic marks refer to a general class of products, rather than those coming from a unique source, the law does not protect them. A mark can be judged generic when first proposed or may become generic over time and therefore lose its legal protection.
A trademark need not be registered to have federal or state protection, but registered marks do offer numerous advantages. Registration serves as constructive notice of ownership nationwide, and the ownership may be incontestable after five years of continuous use.
Advantages of Getting a Trademark
Trademark Registration Enforceable rights in a trademark are based on the legitimate use of the mark. If you register your mark you will receive several advantages including:
- Constructive notice to the public of your claim of ownership of the mark
- A legal presumption of ownership
- The exclusive right to use the mark nationwide on or in connection with the goods and/or services listed in your registration
- The ability to bring an action concerning the mark in Federal court
- The right to use your registration to obtain registration in foreign countries
A trademark lawyer from the Ingber Law Firm can assist you with the trademark registration process:
- We can hire a service firm to conduct a search of the U.S. Trademark Registry to determine if the mark is available.
- We can file your application and hold discussions with the U.S. Trademark Office and anyone who may object to the registration
Preparing to File a Trademark
The Ingber Law Firm has extensive experience in trademark application preparation and prosecution, trademark opposition and cancellation proceedings, trademark analysis/opinions/assertions, trademark clearance, concurrent use, and other trademark-related services. When clients want to obtain trademark protection, we help them through the process. As a team, we work with clients to offer them the most comprehensive strategy for attaining and enforcing trademark protection, optimizing profitability, and improving their quality of life.
The Trademark Process
Trademark protection can be as limiting as a county, state, or nation. Trademarks can also be protected in foreign countries. Though some people choose a limited protection strategy, we often push our clients to obtain national coverage because the scope of protection is wider. Typically, obtaining trademark protection on the national level takes a certain amount of effort and time. Once you have prepared your trademark application, you will go through the same application process as everyone else. In order to give yourself the best chance of approval, you should contact a law firm with trademark experience.
International Trademark Classifications
Trademarks are organized by international classes that reflect the goods that the trademark represents. If a trademark represents multiple types of goods, one must pay a fee for each international trademark class. For example, if your trademark represents and is used for a vehicle, you will file one class and pay one fee. If your trademark is used to represent a vehicle, apparel, and a plaything, you will most likely have to file 3 classes with 3 fees. The classifications of trademarks and services are established by the Committee of Experts of the Nice Union and detailed in the International Classifications of Goods and Services for the purposes of the registration of marks, published by the WIPO.
The Lanham Act, employed on July 5, 1946, is the primary federal trademark statute that protects trademarks nationally. The Act sets forth a number of prohibited activities, including infringement, dilution, and false advertising. The Act also sets forth the principal and supplemental register for trademarks. Having your mark on the principal register is quite important as it gives you national rights to protect your trademark.
According to Subchapter II of the Lanham Act of 1946, the supplemental register is the secondary register of trademarks maintained by the U.S. Trademark Office. The supplemental register allows trademark holders of a descriptive mark. This register is an option for those whose mark solely describes the services represented. The supplemental register is for trademarks that don’t meet the requirement for registration on the principal register but allows the holder to register in another country.
Contact a Trademark Lawyer
The Ingber Law Firm provides quality legal representation to companies engaged in trademark law and infringement disputes. Our cost-effective litigation services benefit plaintiffs and defendants throughout New Jersey. To schedule a consultation with a trademark lawyer from our legal team, simply contact us today.