Keep Your Mark Unique
What do the words “aspirin”, “escalator”, “zipper”, and “margarine” have in common? Read on to find out!
Article 15 Section 1127 of the United States Code defines the purpose of a trademark as “to identify and distinguish his or her goods, including a unique product, from those manufactured or sold by others and to indicate the source of the goods, even if that source is unknown.” Once a trademark ceases to carry out this function of separating a product from its competitors, the mark is no longer eligible for protection. Each of the examples above has, to some extent, lost its trademark protection due to the mark becoming a generic term, or as defined in the glossary of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, “terms that the relevant purchasing public understands primarily as the common or class name for the goods or services.”
Business owners should carefully select and protect their marks. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is only responsible for the registration of trademarks, not the protection of them. It is imperative to select a mark that is strong from the outset. The stronger your mark, the easier it will be to protect. In terms of registration with the USPTO, the strength of a mark falls along a continuum with fanciful or arbitrary marks being the strongest and easiest to register and generic marks being the weakest and impossible to register and enforce. Fanciful words are invented words with no meaning, while arbitrary words are real words with meaning, but the word has no relationship to the goods it describes. At the other end of the spectrum, generic or common words are regularly used to describe goods and services, and as such, are not eligible for protection.
⇒⇒⇒Strength of the Trademark⇒⇒⇒
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