Preserving Originality in Branding through Trademark Protection

Originally posted 2018-11-06 10:37:21

By Ozelle Martin |

Creativity Defines Originality

Originality is the cornerstone for building a formidable identity for a brand. Marketers, branding professionals, entrepreneurs and the like spend a great deal of time brain-storming the elements that would ensure that a brand is memorable and readily identifiable by its consumers and potential consumers. Furthermore, the originality of a brand’s identify is the greatest reputational asset that any business can possess and it must be preserved and protected.

This power of originality in branding extends beyond the parameters of what can be seen. It is about creating intangible experiences in the psyche of consumers to fuel customer loyalty. To protect this valuable asset, branding professionals and entrepreneurs must look to intellectual property law to serve as their brand’s security guard.

Trademark protection is the greatest insurance policy that a brand can have to safeguard the originality and integrity of its name, tagline and logo. Moreover, it is that originality, no matter how slight, that enables these facets of branding to be eligible for trademark protection. For example, one cannot trademark the term “Apple” for an apple as this is referred to as a common name. Furthermore, common names for the products and services in connection with which it is used fall short of the originality threshold in branding. This is because everyone already universally associates that particular name with a particular product and therefore it would be impossible for a business to have exclusive use of the term through trademark protection. On the other hand, naming a technology company “Apple” can be deemed original since the dictionary definition bears no relation to the products and services offered by the company.

According to the USPTO website, a trademark includes any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination, used or intended to be used to identify and distinguish the goods/services of one seller or provider from those of others, and to indicate the source of the goods/services. For example, the Apple on a laptop illustrates that Apple and not Hewlett Packard made the laptop.

It is not mandatory for businesses to federally register their brand name with the United States Patent and Trademark Office but the advantages cannot be understated. Without federal registration, a business’ trademark rights do not extend beyond its home state’s geographical boundaries. On the other hand, a federally registered brand receives national protection and therefore the trademark owner can police its mark for potential infringers throughout the United States. Additionally, federal registration provides notice to the public that the trademark owner has claimed ownership of the mark and consequently, the mark owner has a legal presumption of ownership nationwide. Being federally registered allows the trademark owners to exclusively use the mark in connection with the goods and services listed in registration. Accordingly, it aims to eliminate instances of consumer confusion and gives trademark owners a form of recourse in any such event.

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