Top 5 Trademark Basics For Technology Entrepreneurs

December 28, 2016

Top 5 Trademark Basics For Technology Entrepreneurs

When I asked my fellow entrepreneurs about their knowledge of Trademarks, what I discovered most were naive about the subject. I thought it would be helpful to write about the basics of trademarks for my techie entrepreneurs, to avoid costly trademark mistakes.

Understand What Is Trademark?

Image result for trademark basics

image source:Color Matters

A trademark is essentially a branding tool. Businesses use trademarks to identify their goods and services and distinguish them from other goods and services in the commercial marketplace. This branding tool may also relate to the identity of an organization as a whole but only in so far as the organizational identity helps distinguish goods or services.

As A Techie, What Should I know About Trademark?

Your goal should be to avoid infringing on someone else’s mark and to be prepared to pursue others who tread on yours. As a blogger, developer, tech entrepreneur or ecommerce business owner, you need to pay attention to trademark basics for two reasons: (1) to help you decide whether to pursue a trademark registration, and (2) to lower your odds of getting into a trademark scrape. Your goal should be to avoid infringing on someone else’s mark and to be prepared to pursue others who tread on yours.


Below Are 6 Trademark Basics that a Technology Entrepreneur Should Know

1.First User Always Gets The Trademark

You acquire rights and can stop others in your trade that is, other bloggers, ecommerce businesses, website developers, or software, app makers from using a substantially similar trademark if you are the first to use it in commerce for a specific class of goods or services. That means that you are the first to advertise or sell those products or services under the name. Other factors that influence trademark rights are the geographical extent of your use, whether the mark is weak or strong, or whether you have abandoned your right to use the mark.

2. Creating Trademark Doesn’t Get You Rights

Trademark rights do not arise because you create a trademark—for example, you design a logo or coin a slogan. To acquire rights, you must use the trademark in commerce. You can reserve trademark rights—see below—but these rights will not vest unless you eventually use the mark in commerce.

3. Trademark Rights Are Limited To Your Goods & Services

This is a cornerstone of trademark law. You can only stop others from using a similar mark on goods or services with which the mark is used, intended to be used or likely to be used. So if you create the mark, Goodbye Rats, for a game involving rodents, you won’t be able to stop a company that adopts the name for pest extermination. That’s because consumers are not likely to be confused by the 2 distinct and noncompeting uses.

4. Symbols Indicating Trademark

Typically, the symbols ®, TM or SM are used along with trademarks—as in SME Joinup®. The symbol ® indicates that a trademark has been registered. It is illegal to use the ® symbol if the trademark in question has no official registration. There is no legal requirement that the ® be used, but the failure to use it may limit the amount of damages that the trademark owner can recover in an infringement lawsuit. If the trademark hasn’t been registered, the TM symbol can be used. Similarly, the SM symbol can be used for service marks that have not been registered. The TM and SM have no legal significance other than to indicate the fact that the owner is claiming trademark rights. 

5. No Trademark Protection If

In some situations, the intended trademark cannot be registered, and the owner has no right to stop others using a similar mark. The most common include: (a) Non-use (also known as “abandonment”) which occurs if you stop using a trademark and it appears as if you won’t resume use, (b) If you use a generic term—that is, you attempt to use the name of the a class of goods—for example, you use the term “Software” as the sole name for your mobile application—the name will not be protected, because it is a generic term. Someone could, however, use generic terms in conjunction with other terms—for example, Software Lingerie—and not be generic.

Image result for trademark pngAs An Tech Entrepreneur Why I Should Concern About Trademark Law?

As an techie entrepreneur, you are probably eager to find ways to set yourself apart from your competition, whether existing or imagined. A distinctive name, a catchy slogan, a memorable logo; these identifiers can all be used to create a positive association with your business. Ultimately, this association will result in more sales.

The upshot is that the changing landscape of business, especially the proliferation of the Internet, has dramatically increased the relevance of trademark law in recent years. By allowing businesses to expand cheaply and easily beyond local markets, the Internet has opened up a Pandora’s Box of potential trademark conflicts.

Almost any business is now capable of selling directly to consumers nationally and internationally, and the scope of their concerns about trademark protection must expand accordingly, whether they have strong trademarks or not. Thus, any new business has to be concerned with the ever-increasing vigilance of existing trademark holders.





image source:Traklight Blog,
December 28, 2016

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