Denver Trademark Law Office
A trademark refers to a distinctive word, name, phrase, slogan, design, logo, picture, symbol, emblem, device, or any combination intended to be utilized in commerce. Its function for your brand is to identify your products, distinguish them from those of the competition, and provide information regarding the source of the products. Trademarks are intellectual property and give consumers vital information to identify your brand.
It is critical to ensure you properly apply for any trademarks you wish to use and protect them once established. Learn more about trademark law below, then contact the Denver trademark law office of Four Reasons Legal to begin the process of trademark application for your Colorado business.
US and Colorado Trademark Law Explained
Initially, state common law formed the primary authority for protecting trademarks. In recent years, federal law has adopted more of this responsibility and now serves as the principal enforcer of trademark regulations. Trademark law provides guidelines for the registration and protection of these marks, entitling the owner of the mark to exclusive use.
The most critical piece of trademark law is the Trademark Act of 1946, also known as the Lanham Act. The Act codifies common law around trademark use and forms the basic federal statute governing trademark law. It dictates procedures for pursuing federal trademark registration, stipulates when trademark owners are entitled to legal protection, and outlines other protocols.
What Do Trademark Lawyers Do?
The United States Patent and Trademark Office administers laws pertaining to trademarks, with the goal of promoting scientific progress by allowing inventors to secure the sole rights to their discoveries or inventions for a specific period. It also ensures trademark registration follows the commerce clause within the US Constitution. By coordinating the registration of trademarks, this agency aids businesses by safeguarding their investments, endorsing their products or services, and defending consumers from experiencing confusion or deception. The USPTO also examines trademarks to ensure compliance with legal conditions.
In most jurisdictions, the law permits an owner of a registered trademark to take action to prevent unauthorized use of a trademark. This violation of a registered trademark is called trademark infringement and typically requires the assistance of a trademark lawyer to litigate. During trademark disputes, a trademark lawyer will provide compelling evidence that the infringer’s unauthorized use of the mark is likely to cause consumers to become confused about the product’s origins.
If you notice consumer confusion, contact your trademark attorney. Colorado attorneys find that evidence of this confusion often includes consumers believing the products sold by the infringers are identical to those of the trademark owner. Similarly, consumers may believe that the infringer has received approval or authorization from the owner.
Requirements for a Trademark
To successfully register a trademark, a brand must meet the following requirements:
- The trademark must not conflict with other registered marks.
After you file an application, the USPTO will search their federal database to assess your trademark against other registered marks to determine if conflicts exist. The USPTO will deny any trademark deemed likely to result in confusion. The ultimate decision depends on the similarity between the two marks in their look, sound, or meaning, the similarity between the products offered, and the ways in which consumers may purchase these products.
- The trademark must demonstrate distinctiveness.
Distinctiveness measures the ability of a trademark to properly identify the origin of the product. The USPTO measures distinctiveness along a spectrum from strongest to weakest:
- Fanciful. The strongest trademarks are those that may be deemed “fanciful,” meaning they consist of a word not found in the dictionary, such as Google, Exxon, or Kodak. The brand must inform consumers regarding the association between the fanciful word and the brand. Because of their uniqueness, fanciful trademarks have the best chance of acceptance for federal registration and enjoy the highest level of protection from infringement.
- Arbitrary. A moderately strong trademark may be “arbitrary” if it involves a word with an existing dictionary definition. However, this definition cannot correlate with the products, such as an electronics manufacturer called Apple or a cigarette company named Camel. Arbitrary marks allow consumers to identify the brand’s products and distinguish them from competitors.
- Suggestive. Neutral trademarks may be “suggestive,” meaning they hint at the product’s nature rather than describing it outright or using fanciful or arbitrary language. Examples of suggestive trademarks include Citibank for a financial institution or Netflix for a streaming video service. These marks retain intrinsic sales appeal as the consumer does not require education to grasp the connection between the mark and the product.
- Descriptive. The least distinctive marks are considered weak because they are merely “descriptive,” or represent a feature, ingredient, attribute, purpose, function, or result of the product. Such trademarks rarely receive trademark protection. For example, cold and creamy as a trademark for ice cream is descriptive and would not likely receive trademark protection.
- The trademark must be employed in commerce.
To successfully register a trademark, the owner must demonstrate their intention to employ the trademark in the commerce market. The product must be sold across state or national lines, influence the commerce that crosses these lines or attract customers from within the state or country.
- The trademark must possess the ability to serve as a brand identifier.
A trademark cannot include generic terms referring to an entire category of products or feature inaccurate descriptions of a product’s nature, function, origin, quality, or use.
Losing a Trademark
The right to use a trademark may be lost in several ways, including improper licensing, reassignment, genericity, or abandonment.
- Improper licensing, in which a trademark received licensing without meeting sufficient quality control standards or without adequate supervision by the owner of the trademark
- Reassignment, in which trademark rights are assigned to another party without an equivalent sale of the company’s assets
- Genericity, in which a trademark has become generic and is divested of its distinctiveness.
- Abandonment, in which trademark rights are not preserved through lawful use in commerce after a predetermined period, or the owner neglects to enforce the mark when infringement occurs
Do I Need an Attorney to Get a Trademark?
If you are considering applying for a trademark and have read the information above, determine the information you are missing and ask yourself, “What questions should I ask a trademark attorney?” Then, retain the services of an experienced intellectual property lawyer. Facing the requirements outlined above is often confusing and intimidating. The only way to ensure you adhere to trademark law is with qualified legal representation from a Denver trademark law office.
You must take many precautions to protect trademarks from infringement. An intellectual property lawyer will educate you on these precautions and keep your trademarks up to date. If a violation occurs, your attorney will address any violations and seek litigation to obtain fair compensation.
Secure the Future of Your Brand with Four Reasons Legal
If you are interested in developing a trademark in Colorado, contact Four Reasons Legal today. Our team of intellectual property attorneys will work with you to create, register, and protect your trademark. If a dispute arises or someone commits infringement against your trademark, we have the skills and resources to advocate aggressively on your behalf and negotiate the best outcome for your business.
Four Reasons Legal, LLC
8074 E 34th Ave
Denver, CO 80238