What is Not a Trademark?

December 21, 2015 | Charles Bowen

trademark.jpgImage used with permission by https://www.flickr.com/photos/businesssarah/

 

What Is Not a Trademark?

There are a variety of rules and regulations you must follow as a business owner to have your trademark approved of by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. If your trademark is denied, you’ll receive a letter from the government that is called an “Office Action”. 

The most common reason for rejection of a trademark application is what is known as the “likelihood of confusion” in that your identifying mark could or would be confused with another that is already registered with the office. This confusion could stem from the goods and services you offer which are related to your business and another. Your trademark is likely to confuse customers if it does not distinguish itself from others in the same industry.  We recently wrote a blog article called How to Choose a Business Name that Won't Get You Sued.

Another aspect that the Patent Office identifies as a conflict of interest is whether or not there are mutual or simultaneous reasons that could cause confusion. For example, does your mark look similar to another? Are the meanings similar or the same? Could your services and goods be easily confused and make consumers believe they are coming from the same company? If it’s a sound, does it sound similar to another company’s? Most importantly, are the marks being used in the same or similar business niches?

Interestingly, identical marks may exist together as long as the services are completely unrelated. In some instances, this won’t be the case.  This tends to be most common if your business is in a niche (e.g. agricultural markets).

Anytime consumers might assume that the products or services you’re offering come from a different company, your trademark will be rejected. The key is to distinguish yourself in such a way where there can be no mistaking who you are and what your company offers. Once you can confidently say that there is no confusion, you’ll likely receive your trademark with ease.

Conclusion

If you’re attempting to get seen by your ideal audience, then creating a unique trademark is in your best interest. The last thing you want to see is your consumers confuse your business with another’s simply because your trademark doesn’t stand out. Additionally, the right trademark offers you brand visibility like nothing else can, and can have a dramatic impact on your business. Consider this when registering your trademark idea.

Resources you might find useful if you are starting a new business in Georgia:

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Topics: Starting a Business in Georgia, Georgia Entertainment Law, Georgia Law for Small Businesses and Startups, trademarks