Before I embarked on getting Patient Scrubs® registered as a trademark, I didn’t think much about the importance of trademarks, copyrights and patents. It’s a time-consuming process to register a trademark, but it’s worth it. If you’re an entrepreneur, below are some links and information that you may find useful.
A trademark is a word, phrase or symbol identifies your product. For example, Patient Scrubs® is my registered trademark. It helps me establish a brand identity and strengthens my business reputation. It prevents others in the medical apparel industry from using this phrase on their product(s), website or promotional materials. Trademarks are business assets, and federal law helps enforce this exclusivity.
A service mark offers the same protection as a trademark, except it identifies a service rather than a product. For example, the service mark “Greyhound” identifies Greyhound Bus Lines just as “McDonald’s” is a service mark for the restaurant.
No, you don’t have to register a trademark or service mark. However, registration offers several advantages for your business and the exclusive right to use the mark. You can use TM or SM on any word or phrase that you want to designate as a trademark before it is registered. Most states give you some trademark rights. However, it’s the ® that shows that the federal registration has been issued and you own the trademark.
A logo is a graphic representation of products/services of a business, but it isn’t a trademark. For example, my logo seen on this blog represents my Patient Scrubs® products. It goes on every product, and I use it for every communication. However, it’s a graphic that isn’t used in text. My trademark, Patient Scrubs®, is used when I write content.
A patent differs from trademarks and service marks. People file for patents when they invent or discover something new to retain property rights. It could be a new design, process, product, medication, etc. Generally, new patents are effective for 20 years and prevent others from using the same design or process.
Copyright, designated by ©, protects written content from being used without the author’s consent. You’ll see this on many websites, magazines, newspapers, etc. Book authors, musicians, and other artistic work often apply for formal copyright protection to protect their intellectual property.
For more information or to file the appropriate documents, go to http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/basics/definitions.jsp. Multiple links on this page can help you find the right information.
I hope this information helps my fellow entrepreneurs. If you are selling a product or service, I urge you to file for your trademark or service mark. It’s an excellent way to build your brand and reputation.