Do We Really Need Trademarks Lawyers?
No business can stand out in the market without having a distinctive mark or logo to its brand name, for example, you would instantly recognize a company just from a photo of a bitten apple, no matter where in the world you see it. Trademarks help businesses become more unique in the competitive marketplace and make it easier for the customers to recognize their goods and services. A fruitful conversation with reputable trademarks lawyers can assist businesses to avail the maximum benefits from their business. The right attorneys provide all the assistance on how to register, sustain and guard the trademarks.
What is a Trademark and Why Do We Need It?
A symbol, word, slogan, logo, or design that makes your company different from every other company in the world is known as a trademark. The signs or the logos associated with your products or services make them easy to identify for your consumers. Trademarks are also known as service marks, the only difference between both these terms is that a service mark is for the services a business offers whereas, trademarks are for products or goods.
For example, when someone tells you about their new pair of Adidas, the three triangular lines instantly come to your mind, this is the trademark of the Adidas company. Similarly, you can easily recognize Pepsi and Coca-Cola from their trademark logos even though both contain brown color soda.
The trademark lawyers are responsible for helping large business corporations with the legal issues and the legitimate practices associated with the trademarks. Typically, a trademark is limited to either a logo, word or a symbol but there are cases where a company sets a specific design or the color of their products under the trademark rights as well.
For such circumstances, another term is used which is called, ‘trade dress’. One of the prominent rewards of registering for a trade dress is that you can even get legal protection for the design, color, and theme of your brand website. Examples of trade dress would include the unique shape of the Coca-Cola bottles, the color of the IHOP restaurants, and the shape of the red logo of Levis.
People who are running huge businesses understand the importance and the need for the trademark system in any country. Hiring trademarks lawyers and getting your product logos and names registered for trademarks provides several benefits to the business. A trademark for your product or service is needed because it provides your brand with an extra layer of safety and protection in the market.
Trademarked brands make it easier for people to locate their products among the diverse variety of goods and services. Customers of your brand can easily identify and pick your products without having to ask for them, and it creates a unique value for your brand between the competitors. These are just the merits from a financial point of view; a trademark also provides legal protection for your goods and the trademarks lawyers ensure that you get that protection.
The core objective of the servicemarks, trademarks, and trade dresses is to make the selection of goods and services easier for the customers, by reducing the mix-up among your and other brands. A person looking for sports shoes from a brand he trusts would not be confused about which one to choose if that person knows the brand logo. According to the trademark regulations, a business or the brand that chose a unique name or a design for a product should own all the rights and the protection of that trademark. Anyone who tries to create confusion among the consumers of that trademarked products can be legally sued with the help of trademarks lawyers.
Who Are Trademarks Lawyers?
Trademarks lawyers are highly qualified members of the legal system that are responsible for providing authorized consultation for trademark registration and legal protections associated with it. They provide aid for the businesses to comply with the trademark law as well in protecting their trademark rights. A trademark attorney works on several different issues related to the inclusivity of a brand, that is the trade or service mark. Industrialists in the US hire trademarks lawyers to represent their business in the court for trademark infringement cases. Trademark attorneys also play their role in handling the applications for the trademarks of a company, as well as in the conflict resolution between two or more businesses on a particular trademark.
What is Necessary to be a Trademark Attorney?
Typically, most trademark lawyers have either a legal or arts educational background before specializing in trademark law. The candidates aspiring to be trademarks lawyers must have a strong grasp of the knowledge, processes, and mechanisms that protect trademarks. A J.D degree holder can easily apply for the trademark specialization after passing the bar exam of his/her state. There are multiple courses and exams related to trademark specialization, that increase the credibility of a lawyer in the trademark field. After the legal certifications and the state license, one can start practicing as a trademark lawyer by working privately in a law firm or by associating oneself with a governmental sector.
For legal practitioners who aspire to be on the list of well-known trademarks, lawyers must have some personal qualities and attributes that make them competent and reputable in the market. Such attributes include:
- Client Management
Trademarks lawyers have to deal with a lot of clients on daily basis, so having good client management skills is one of the vital characteristics of a trademark lawyer. Clients should feel trusted and comfortable when consulting the lawyer, and that is possible only if the lawyer has good client management qualities.
- Strong Communication
It is a general rule that no lawyer can succeed in court and legal proceedings if he/she lacks the basic verbal and written communication qualities. Trademarks lawyers are required to transfer the necessary knowledge about the trademark mechanisms to the clients. For a lawyer whose communication is good, this task becomes fruitful but those who are dull in communication are unable to deliver the important information.
- Critical Thinking
The trademark lawyers must have an analytical view on the legal matters their clients consult them for and use their critical thinking to give birth to a viable solution. Critical thinking for trademarks lawyers comes in handy when they are trying to protect their clients from trademark infringement and other legal charges.
- Research Skills
An efficient trademark attorney has extensive knowledge about every aspect of the trademark laws in the US. That extensive knowledge comes from either academic excellence or due to excellent research skills. Trademarks lawyers have to look up so many trade and service marks for the other products and services to advise on the trademark registration process of a new brand.
Hiring a trademark lawyer with in-built problem-solving abilities increases the chances of winning a lawsuit many folds. Problem-solving is exactly what people hire lawyers for, so if a lawyer is lacking this quality, the success rate is likely to go downhill. Trademarks lawyers must be clever, and able to find a solution for every legal issue using their problem-solving attributes.
Significance of the Legal License for Trademarks Lawyers
The most vital aspect of becoming a trademark lawyer is the state or federal license to practice under the US trademark regulations. Unlicensed trademarks lawyers are bound to make your trademark application invalid under the US trademark law. Appointing an unlicensed trademark attorney for your trademark registration endangers the whole procedure and delays the trademark process due to multiple cancellations. The legal bodies in the US law take harsh and immediate actions towards an unlicensed trademark attorney practicing in the field.
What Do the Trademarks Lawyers Do? Job, When and Why to Hire
A reputable and licensed trademark attorney is one of the greatest assets for a company or a brand. Whether you are starting as a new business or have millions of consumers all over the world, trademark lawyers make things easier for you. For registering a trademark at the federal and state level, you can save some money by doing everything on your own but the chances of a successful application increase by getting a lawyer. They have a responsibility to help businesses and organizations, profit greatly from the trademark protections and defend them in legal issues about their trademarks. Here are the major duties a trademark lawyer performs:
Conduct the Necessary Research for the Trademark
The legal body for approving and registering the trademarks in the US is USPTO, which does not hesitate enough a bit to reject your trademark if it resembles the trademark of another company even slightly.
For this reason, trademarks lawyers are hired by the companies to conduct thorough research on the shortlisted trademarks for your goods or services. They conduct multiple searches to make sure that the trademark you are aspiring to have for your brand is not already taken. They check for not only the design of the trademark but also for the color scheme, wording, logo, font style, and many other aspects before concluding.
Provide Help in Finding the Eligible Trademark
In the US, the laws about trademark registration and the approval process are extremely strict, so much so that once a trademark or a service mark has been approved by the legal bodies, no one can challenge that approval. This is why the institutions responsible for approving the trademark of all the brands are highly vigilant and take their time.
Knowing that such a difficult screening process is applied on the chosen trademarks by the businesses, trademarks lawyers are of great help. They provide the consultation and their legal expertise for you to choose an eligible trademark that is most likely to be approved.
Fill Out the Trademark Application Paperwork
Those who have gone through the process of getting a trademark for their brand must understand the complexity of the paperwork for trademark registration. The application form itself is such a mixture of legal terms and difficult questions that you cannot comprehend it all at once and without someone’s help. The trademark lawyers are trained to understand those legal terms mentioned on your form and know exactly how to fill out every section. It is better to avoid the risk of filling it on your own, because the USPTO, is not shy to reject an application just for one tiny mistake. After rejection, you have to repeat the whole process of filing it again and that can be avoided by getting a lawyer.
Provide a Great Description of Your Goods and Services
When you register for a trademark, it has to symbolize a certain product or a group of products, which you have to be very precise about. You can very easily end up in a legal mess over an irresponsible description of the products under a certain trademark.
The trademark application needs you to write a detailed and accurate description of the products and services under your brand. Any mistake or vague information on the list of the products can cause unannounced rejection from the USPTO. In such circumstances, trained trademarks lawyers are appointed who help you write a description that is bound to be accepted.
Solve Legal Objections and Provide Answers to Your Queries
After the description, the legal body of trademarks can send back your file with some unresolved queries or objections. The queries have to be addressed by the person applying for the trademark, and any confusion or mistake in the answer can again lead to rejection. Having a trademark lawyer means that you can get answers to all of those queries and proceed with your application. Apart from that trademarks lawyers defend and solve the objections that are thrown at your chosen trademark after it is published in an official publication. The USPTO does that to help other businesses with trademarks make any objection to your trademark before making it official.
Protect Your Trademark Rights by Monitoring It
Once you have been appointed an official trademark for your business or brand, the responsibility of the USPTO for filing objections ends. From there onwards, it is on the trademarked businesses to protect the rights of their trademarked products. They have to look out in the market to make sure no one is taking advantage of their registered trademark. Having a trademark attorney for the job makes it so much easier because they have a strong outlook on who is registering for what trademark. They monitor the marketplace and file for trademark infringements where they are valid and protect your trademark.
Fight Your Case for Trademark Infringement
Whether you are the one filing for a trademark infringement or have been faced with one, having a trademark lawyer is the right way to go. If you have been legally accused of trademark infringement, your lawyer is the one who can defend you by collecting enough information for your case. Sometimes, brands are faced with infringement issues without any valid reason, which makes it hard for them to comprehend everything. The trademark lawyers use their legal knowledge and research abilities to avoid any confusion between the two brands and defend your trademark rights.
How to Pick the Best Trademark Attorney?
Before you go around looking hiring trademarks lawyers for your business, there are a few things you have to keep in mind, that protect you from scams and excessive costs. Finding a trademark attorney is not a challenging task, it is choosing the best trademark that is difficult. Here is all you need to for getting the best trademark lawyer:
Look Around and Do Some Research
For choosing the best trademarks lawyers, the most important thing is your research, because the more options you have, the better you can choose. You can easily conduct research using the internet, there are so many websites and law directories that allow people to find the best lawyers available without any cost. You can ask for consultations from your friends, family, or social circle, that is another great way to find an experienced lawyer. But in this method, the suggested lawyer was likely good for them but not good for you. So, you should not rely on just consultations, instead, you should contact law firms and government sectors for competent trademarks lawyers.
Pick A Trademark Lawyer with Caution
Many people in their search for trademarks lawyers, end up meeting people who are either fraud or they have no legal license whatsoever. Working with such people not only prolongs your trademark registration process – in the case of the unlicensed lawyers – but also makes you vulnerable to legal loss.
Always be cautious of who you meet and especially who you hire because when you hire a lawyer all of your legal information goes to that lawyer. The fraudulent folks can take advantage of that valuable information and you may end up in jail.
Hire an Efficient Trademark Attorney
If you are a business owner and you are interviewing a couple of trademarks lawyers, always choose the one who seems efficient and knows what’s going on in the market. The efficient lawyers give undivided attention to your trademark application and the description. They even suggest some changes in the techniques you have been using for your trademark logo.
Having a trademark lawyer who is competent and efficient in his/her work speeds up your trademark registration. The USPTO takes up enough time for the final approval of the trademark, you don’t need to increase that time with an incompetent lawyer. Another important aspect of an efficient trademark lawyer is that he/she never sits peacefully until the final approval of your trademark has been granted to you.
Pick an Attorney That Makes You Feel Relaxed
Choosing a trademark attorney that is unable to answer all of your questions or someone incapable of transferring the legal information to you is a big no. The competent and top-notch trademark lawyers are those who make you feel at ease and comfortable by being able to communicate effectively with you.
A lawyer with good interpersonal and communication skills is the one who can make you feel relaxed about your legal needs and helps you focus more. A good communicator not only provides relevant information to you but also keeps you updated on your application.
Things to Ask Your Trademarks Lawyer
A thorough first meeting with your trademark lawyer can help you gain so much knowledge about trademark law and its regulations in the US. Many people spend all of their time discussing their case or the credentials of the attorney. While knowing your attorney and sharing your information is necessary, there are many things you can learn from them. We have listed some basic questions you can ask the trademarks lawyers:
What are the Benefits of Getting a Trademark?
Knowing the benefits of registering for a trademark can be best explained by the trademark’s lawyers, therefore you should not hesitate to ask them this question. Getting a trademark for your brand makes it easier for your customers to find your goods or services, using just the logo or the design printed on them.
Trademarks also help make your products and services unique and distinct in the race of other companies. Getting a trademark makes your business more valid and internationally recognizable. Your trademark lawyer may also tell you that getting your brand trademarked provides so many legal protections and rights that make your brand stronger.
How Long Do the Trademarks Last?
The trademarks lawyers have every information about the questions you ask them, such as how long do the trademarks last? You might not already know that in the US, a federally registered trademark can exist forever, although you have to refresh it around every ten or so years. The trademark attorneys are also hired for the renewal of the trademarks for your products. There are certain official requirements that a brand has to fulfill to be eligible for the renewal of the trademarks.
What are the Fees for the Trademark Registration?
Another thing you should all focus on along with the lawyer’s fee is the question about the trademark costs and fees. Many business owners feel shy to ask about the charges for the complete trademark registration process and end up shocked when they have to pay them. In the US, the trademark registration fees are not the same for every file, they vary depending on the type of trademark you require or on the product description for the trademark rights. The trademark lawyers charge a separate fee for conducting the researchers and for monitoring your trademark, apart from their consultation fee.
What is the Process of Trademark Registration?
If you run a new business and you are looking to hire a trademark lawyer, without having any knowledge about the whole procedure, this question is a must for you. The process of trademark registration begins with a long period of searching for the right trademark, which is done by the trademarks lawyers in most cases. After this, there is a long application form that needs to be filled along with the preparation of an accurate description of the trademarked products. The legal body then approves the trademark after multiple steps and you are eligible for all the trademark protections.
When Was the Trademark Law Initiated in the US?
Trademark law is a branch of the US legal system, that governs the registration of the new trade and service marks, handles legal issues with the trademark rights, and approves or dilutes a trademark for a company. In the US, the trademark laws were initiated by Congress in the late 1880s. During the 1860s, the legal institutes in the US started paying attention to trademark protections for the betterment of businesses. In 1870, the first trademark law was passed at the federal level, which was replaced by the trademark law of 1881. That trademark act did not last long as Congress decided to make changes in that law and in 1905, another trademark law was passed.
Then in 1946, the currently used trademark law of the US was given birth, which was named the Lanham Act. This act was presented in Congress to offer a countrywide system for the approval, registration, and protection of the business owners’ trademark rights. This act set a proper legal system for the legal problems related to the trademarks and devised appropriate penalties for them. The terms like trademark infringement, unlawful advertising, and trademark dilution were created by the Lanham Act, after which the US trademark law is extremely stern about these laws. Under the Lanham Act, the name, logo, or the design of a business name is automatically registered in the trademarked list under Common law. The businesses registered under the common law are also given some level of federal protection, by the regulations of the Lanham Act. But to gain higher trademark protections and rights at a federal level, one must get his/her business registered and approved in the USPTO.
The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), is a legal agency at the federal level that is responsible for approving the trademarks and patents under the US trademark law. It was established in January 1975 to protect the trademark system of the US. This federal agency plays the most crucial role in the acceptance and the unacceptance of your trademark. Once you have been opposed by the USPTO for some reason, there is no way you can deal with it on your own without the help of trademarks lawyers.
Trademarks in the US: Legal Issues
The rights of the trademark for a brand prohibit another brand from operating its business using the same or somewhat similar trademark. Such an act would give the trademarked business complete legal authority to sue that brand, and that practice is known as trademark infringement. The main criteria on which the trademark infringement is based is the confusion caused for the customers of the trademarked business. For instance, if being a Nike customer, if I see another shoe company with a logo looking like a tick, I would surely be confused between the two. To avoid that confusion, it is illegal for a party to use a trademark similar to an already existing trademark.
The first party can hire trademarked lawyers and file a case against the second party for the infringement of their trademark. Your lawyer helps you prepare all the relevant evidence to support your case, on which the court decides to press charges or not. In deciding whether a party deserves trademark infringement charges, the court looks for certain aspects.
First, the resemblance between the products or services of both parties, like if a brand makes a logo similar to Nike and sells shoes too then it can cause confusion, otherwise, it won’t affect the customers. A second aspect is how similar or alike the logos or the designs are of both parties.
The third one is the evidence that the customers are facing confusion due to another brand with a similar trademark. The evidence can include the surveys done on the consumer behaviors as well as the report of the revenue for that certain product before or after the trademark infringement.
The fourth component that the court pays a lot of attention to, is the intention the convicted party had for that trademark. If that party is not able to provide a strong argument or the piece of evidence for the trademark infringement, they are more likely to be charged. The penalties faced by the convicted party for the proved trademark infringement include removal of trademark protections and financial loss. In some cases, the second party has to pay a percentage of their profits to the first party to compensate for the losses it faced. Under the Lanham Act, the convicted party can also be sentenced to ten or more years in federal jail for trademark infringement.