GENERAL TRADEMARK LAW
DO I NEED TO REGISTER A TRADEMARK? The Lanham Act is the federal statute that governs trademarks and its primary purpose is to help avoid confusion in the marketplace. Keep in mind that a trademark may be obtained without registering, but registering offers greater protections as a mark is presumed valid if registered. Unregistered marks are also geographically restrained to the area of their business, whereas registered marks have nationwide rights, regardless of whether business is conducted nationwide.
Someone that is claiming a non-registered trademark will often use the symbol (™), or (SM) for service marks, while those that have registered normally use (®). Trademarks last in perpetuity as long as the mark is being used. All trademarks are based on actual use of the mark in commerce.
- Generic (cannot be trademarked). Example: Carpentry Tools
- Descriptive (cannot be trademarked unless it has attained secondary meaning). Example: Durable Tools.
- Suggestive (trademarkable). Example: Sugar & Spice in connection with baked goods.
- Arbitrary or Fanciful (trademarkable). Example: Exxon in connection with petroleum products, or Apple in connection with computers.