W.C. Fields’ famously said “[i]t ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.” To a business, what customers and consumers call you is important as a business’ name or trademark are one of its most important assets.
What Types of Marks Receive Trademark Protection?
A business acquire trademark rights from actual use of the name, logo, symbol, sound or some combination of these at common law. However, in order to protect and enforce the mark, the business owner must register the mark. A mark may be eligible for registration if it performs the essential trademark function and has a distinctive character. “Generic” terms which simply refer to the product or service itself cannot be used as trademarks.
One should consult with an attorney when filing the trademark application to ensure that the application is properly filed, protects the mark actually being used and provides protection in the classes of products or services that are associated with the trademark.
The name that your customers and consumers call you does matter. Business owners should therefore take the necessary steps to protect a business’ name, logo, symbol, sound or combination of these.