Trademarks and service marks are the words and symbols that identify your company’s product and services to the public and in the marketplace.
While symbolizing your goodwill, these marks also tell your customers where to find you and distinguish you from your competitors. They are valuable assets of your business.
From the legal perspective, a good trademark or service mark is a mark that is clear (no known third parties who could make a claim against its use), and registerable in any countries where you may conduct business.
What do the words “aspirin” and “elevator” have in common?
At one time, both were trademarks. Unfortunately, the makers of both products were a little too successful in their marketing. People learned to “ask for an aspirin” and to “take the elevator”. Thus, these marks eventually became the generic word for the product they originally represented. Genericness is the kiss of death for a trademark.
Fortunately, many of the activities that can turn a trademark into a generic word are in your control. The most important thing to remember is that trademarks and service marks must describe something. They are the “brand” of something, not the thing itself (as in: Kleenex tissue or Crest toothpaste). Therefore, the trademark should not be the object of any advertising or reference sentence. If you treat your mark as a generic term, so will your competitors, your customers, and–ultimately–the court.
Incorrect Trademark Use:
Try Neublu, your words will smile.
Make a Xerox.
Saturdays were made for Yellow Roses.
Correct Trademark Use:
Try a Neublu pen, your words will smile.
Make a copy on the Xerox copy machine.
Saturdays were made for Yellow Roses wine.
Next, use symbols to identify your marks as marks. The “tm” (trademark) and “sm” (service mark) notations can be used at any time you claim rights to a mark, whether or not you’ve taken legal action to claim the mark as your own. However, the ® may only be used when a mark has received a federal trademark registration.
Try the NeuBlu® pen, your words will smile.
Try the NeuBlu™ pen, your words will smile.