Businesses spend valuable time, effort and money on strategies to grow their market share. Whether a business is a provider of services or a seller of goods, the manner in which a business distinguishes itself from competitors is not only important, but extremely valuable as the market for your services or goods grows and customers begin to identify with your brand. Businesses should take great care to protect that brand, including the proper registration of trademarks.
What are marks? Broadly speaking, marks are slogans, symbols and designs your business utilizes to identify itself and its products or services. Marks generally fit within three categories: trademarks, service marks and trade dress. Trademarks are words, symbols or designs that identify with a product (or goods). Service marks are the same as a trademark, but identify with a service that is provided, rather than a product. Trade dress, on the other hand, refers to the general appearance of a product, such as design of packaging and advertising.
To best protect your marks, trademarks, service marks and trade dress, to the extent allowed, should be registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) as well as in the various states where you do business. In Illinois, trademarks and service marks can be registered with the Illinois Secretary of State.
Once registered, owners of marks must take action to prevent the unlawful use of the marks, often known as infringement or dilution. An owner of a mark that fails to prevent unlawful use may lose control of its exclusive rights to even a registered mark.
The attorneys at Griffin | Williams LLP are experienced in registering marks as well as fighting to protect against the unlawful use of marks. Please contact our office to discuss any questions you might have concerning the marks your business uses or to evaluate any claims your business might possess concerning unlawful trademark use.