Always use your trademark as an adjective and never as a noun for the good or service. For example, a brand owner should use the trademark (adjective) followed by the good or service (noun) it modifies (e.g., “APPLE computer”). Using the mark as a noun indicates the mark is a good or service rather than the source of the good or service, which is a hallmark of trademark law.
You can register a trademark with a state government, the federal government, or both. Federally registered trademarks will usually have the ® symbol used next to or in close association with the good. Trademark rights begin with use in commerce.[i],[ii] Generally, "use" means the owner must use the mark in association with particular goods, such as placing the mark on the goods or their packaging, in advertisements for the goods, or at point-of-sale displays, for example.
Trademarks, trade dress, and design patents are each exclusionary intellectual property rights that protect non-functional aspects of an owner’s business operations and product lines by giving the owner legal rights to prevent others from using them. While each of these routes to protect an owner’s intellectual property is somewhat similar and overlapping, differences exist. Each intellectual property right will be discussed below and then compared and contrasted with the other. This topic will be divided into several blog entries with part I introducing trademarks and providing a little history.
A trademark is a distinguishable word, symbol, slogan, or figure which identifies products or services from a specific source and distinguishes from products or services of other sources. Word marks in particular are evaluated on a sliding scale from most distinctive to least distinctive. More distinctive marks lend themselves to stronger trademarks, and are better candidates for registration on the Principal Register of the USPTO. The most distinctive marks are known as "inherently distinctive," as will be discussed here in greater detail.