Trademarks – What’s in a Name?

April 20, 2023

Trademarks are one of the terms used in the intellectual property realm that often gets confused with patents and copyrights. To simplify things, a trademark helps a consumer identify a product or service. Logos, names and tag lines are typically trademarked items. Nike has the Swoosh, McDonalds and their Golden Arches and GE’s “We bring good things to life” are all great examples. So, what are some basic requirements for a trademark? Below is a list:

  • Identify who or what owns the trademark – individual, corporation, LLC, any other type of entity; 
  • What type of mark will be used? 
    • Standard Character Format – Registration of works, letters and/or numbers in any style or design
    • Special Character Format – Registration of words, letters numbers that have a design element incorporated with them (If you would like to learn about some famous logos and their story, check out this article)
    • Sound Mark – This is a sound that is associated with a particular business or entity (e.g. ESPN’s alert sound, Time Warner’s Looney Tunes Theme SongMGM’s Lion Roar)
  • Create a drawing or specimen of the particular mark; 
  • What is the mark associated with (i.e, type of goods or services)?

Once you have the above listed items established, then determine how to protect your trademark. At the State level, you have the ability to file for trademark protection. There are also certain common law protections that are applicable for more local usage.  However, the main way to provide the broadest protection is to file on a Federal level with the US Patent and Trademark Office. You could also file for protection internationally depending on what foreign country you will be using the trademark in. Regardless, I would suggest you engage an experienced intellectual property attorney to help you navigate the process.

If you would like to see a comical example of trademark infringement, check out this clip from Coming to America.

Next week, we will review copyrights. 

Here are some other items of interest:

As always, please don’t hesitate to email myself (, Andy Miller (, Christian Miller (, Erik Spurlin (, Brad Leber ( or anyone in our office with questions or comments.  

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