Make you mark (but be sure it's not the same as someone else's)

Brand and product recognition is extremely valuable to companies all across Florida. Whether it's a highly memorable tagline in a commercial or an identifiable logo, a symbol or phrase that allows consumers to almost immediately recognize a product can be worth much more than money.

For example, when we see an Apple product logo or BMW symbol on a vehicle, there are likely very specific connections you make and reactions you have. In the best case scenarios, these are favorable and increase the chances that a person will buy that product. Considering how powerful these identifying features can be, many companies want to trademark and protect them from being used by another entity.

In order to trademark a symbol, logo, phrase or design that is unique to your company, you will need to go through the process of determining if it is even possible to trademark. In order to do this, you need to ask some important questions:

  • Could this mark get confused too easily with another company's trademarked material?
  • Is it a "strong" mark in that it will be relatively easy to prevent others from copying?
  • Is it a "weak" mark in that people may already be using the symbol or it is too generic?
  • Would others consider it offensive?
  • Does it contain the name of a song, surname, book or movie?

Unless a mark is considered strong, unique and not offensive, the United States Patent and Trademark Office could very well refuse to register the trademark and you would have to start the process over.

If you use a particularly mark without it being registered, you could face lawsuits filed by other companies who feel that you are using their registered trademarked materials without permission. This can have serious consequences including court orders to stop using the mark and severe financial penalties.

Rather than face the risk of a costly and contentious lawsuit, it can be wise to discuss your concerns and/or questions about a trademark with an attorney. With legal guidance, you can review the material in question and determine what steps need to be taken to protect your company, your product and your brand recognition.