Note: I am not an attorney. This article is for informational purposes only. It should not be construed as legal advice for any individual matter, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship between you and me (the author) or the publisher. For further questions, I strongly recommend you speak to a licensed attorney who is […]
Ohio State University recently filed a federal trademark application for the mark THE in connection with clothing. The application has elicited plenty of news coverage and lots of laughs, but the question remains: is THE really eligible for trademark registration?
Collective and certification marks hammer home the core tenet of trademark law: trademarks exist to protect consumers, not to privilege registrants. (I promise, this one’s always true.) Beyond that fundamental principle, however, these oddball marks behave differently from the rest of the trademark family.
A growing category of trademarks has opened new opportunities for the clever strategist or brand manager to define and protect a brand. When an item’s “total image and overall appearance” successfully identifies its source like other trademarks do, that look and feel can function as a trademark. The components comprising that look and feel are called trade dress.
In everyday parlance, the intellectual property terms “trademark,” “patent,” and “copyright” are used interchangeably. For brand strategists and managers, it is prudent to discern one from the next and, specifically in relation to building brands, understand what it really means and requires to “trademark” something. Let’s start with what a trademark is not.