Two brand’s stepped into a lawyer’s office ready to claim their individuality. They looked the same…or at least very similar. Like a fraternal twin almost. Both came away with a registered trademark.
Welcome to the world of branding. It’s wacky and subjective and confusing…just like trademarks.
Well. Let’s clear this up a bit.
The secret to this outcome was that they operated in completely different industries.
Backup…let’s start with what you can actually trademark first.
Short answer? A lot. A name, slogan, image, logo or combination of #allthethings
Next, let’s talk symbols. There are a actually a couple types of trademark symbols (ok, three that I know of but we’ll stick to the two main ones that we actually see.
™ or ®
(the third is actually a service mark and is very similar to a trademark, just replace the T with an S)
You can use the ™ if you intend to trademark your logo, business name, or tagline however, until it is registered it won’t be protected. Or…at least it’s very very difficult to claim any legal protection.
I like to look at the ™ as the first line of defense. It’s going to make people pause before copying whatever it is you used it on. However, since it’s really difficult to enforce any protection on it you’ll probably want to register it eventually (that’s the ® by the way).
If this is a route you plan to go there are a couple things you need to know of first.
You will have a very difficult time registering a trademark for very common words (like salon or pizza). That doesn’t mean you can’t use them, but you’ll probably need something more unique to pair with it. For this reason you may run into problems if you want to trademark your name.
Also, you should double check if anyone in your industry is already a registered trademark for your business name or similar variation of it.
A registered trademark protects you from anyone in your industry using your logo/name/tagline, but does not prevent someone in a different industry from using similar names/phrases.
I highly recommend doing a bit more research on this for yourself before telling your designer to put a ™ on your logo and only after you’re actually registered can you replace that with the ®.
If you’re planning on trademarking make sure to speak with a legal professional. I love the way these lawyers talk about it:
Aiden H Kramer: All Up In Yo’ Business
You can also do your own cursory check here: