COVID-19 has not halted all businesses from prospering. There are actually some industries that are booming as a result of the virus and brand new companies, products, and services are actually launching to serve the current new “normal”. An example of this can be found in the number of new trademarks being filed with the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO).
In March 2020, 503 trademark applications were filed for soap, 634 for different types of cleaning products/services, 200 for sanitizing products/services, 125 for antibacterial products, and more than 152 applications for disinfectants.
This means that the USPTO registry will be overflowing with applications for products and services consumers currently need. So, if you are on the fence about creating a new brand/name for a new product or service, act fast before someone else jumps on the opportunity!
The Basics of Trademark Registration
Trademarks protect a business’ brand identity: name, slogan, jingles, and logos. As such, one of the first things to consider when launching a new business is investigating whether another company has already trademarked the name you’d like to use. If the name has been previously registered, it’s back to the drawing board. If the name is available, you should register the trademark to prevent anyone else from using it without your consent. Do remember to create a name unique enough to differentiate it from similar types of businesses in your industry.
The Basics of Trademark Infringement
A trademark infringement occurs when someone is using your trademark to promote their own services or goods, or even selling your goods, without receiving permission.
Unfortunately, there is no governmental agency that polices trademark usage. So, the burden falls upon business owners to monitor it themselves. There is also no government body to report infringement or file a complaint with. A cease and desist must be issued to the infringing party and then, if the infringing party does not refrain from using the mark, a lawsuit must be filed to resolve the matter.
Trademark infringement law varies from case to case. And, there are instances of honest mistakes. For example, a Florida business may not have had prior knowledge that a California business was operating under the same name because the California business never registered their name. But, if the California business has built name recognition and is more established than the brand new Florida business, the California business may win the right to continue using the name exclusively.
Did you know that one of the most famous trademarked names is “Super Bowl”? As a South Florida business, you may have taken advantage of all the excitement this past February by running a promotion in conjunction with the game. But did you know that the NFL owns more than 25 trademarks for “Super Bowl”? And to use that trademark you must pay the NFL a licensing fee or become a sponsor in order to legally use the mark. This is why many local businesses are careful to only reference the event by calling it “The Big Game.”
During COVID-19, memes are being shared across all social media channels and the person or artist who created the image and caption is often unknown or cropped out. Be careful before sharing because you do not want it to appear as if you are taking credit for someone else’s intellectual property or trademarked material.
There have also been images circulating the internet of well known companies or sports team logos being doctored to illustrate “social distancing.” For example, McDonald’s golden arches were spaced apart. The trademarked logo belongs to the fast food chain and it is illegal to tamper with or alter it.
Ser & Associates assists businesses in registering trademarks at affordable flat fees and then can provide monitoring services to ensure your trademark is protected. Plus, if you discover that your trademark was infringed upon or you have been accused of infringing on an established trademark, Ser & Associates is here to help!