Which parts of your brand should you trademark?

Most people believe that a trademark registration can only protect the actual brand name. However, there are several other “parts” of a brand that can and should be trademarked; for examplecolors, logos, slogans, and service marks.

Generally, the word mark of a brand is the strongest trademark, which needs protection. Nevertheless, as one can see from brands like Christian Louboutin and Tiffany’s, colors can have just as much strength as a word mark.

Furthermore, many individuals and brand owners file trademarks that include both the word mark together with their logos. But what if the brand owner wants to use the logo separately from the actual brand name? If this is the case then the brand owner needs to file two separate trademarks, one for the word mark and one for the logo. Hence, it is important to trademark the logo separately from the word mark in order to be able to use it sporadically without the actual brand name.

Moreover, generally slogans are not trademarkable. Nevertheless, if a slogan acquires what is called “secondary meaning”, then the slogan can be trademarked. Secondary meaning means, “When a trademark that is not distinctive acquires a meaning within the marketplace such that consumers associate it with the product or service” . For example, when one says “Just Do it”, we know that this slogan is associated with the mark Nike and therefore has acquired secondary meaning.

Lastly, “A “service mark” is a type of trademark protected and regulated under the Lanham Act. Service marks are used to identify and distinguish the services of one individual or organization, even a unique service, from those provided by others”. For example, the mark BMW is a trademark that is used on goods (cars, clothes, etc.), as well as, is a “service mark” under which BMW offers different services such as advertising and car maintenance/repair services. Hence, all services and goods offered under the mark BMW need to be included in the trademark application(s) in order to receive optimal intellectual property protection for the foregoing mark.

Obtaining trademarks for your brand strengthens your brand’s identity and market worth. Without trademarks, liability of a business is risen because the brand owner takes a risk that someone else has priority rights to their name or a name that is similar to theirs, which will bar the business from obtaining trademarks in the future. Additionally, many companies that fail to obtain trademarks experienceloss of their marketing efforts due to market overlap (potential clients mistaking another company to theirs). For these reasons, Cornell Law School, https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/secondary_meaning obtaining trademarks are one of the initial steps companies need to take when building a brand.

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