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Trademarks & Trade Dress

Organizations today must protect and distinguish their products and services from regional, national, and global competition. We have a keen understanding of the challenges facing our clients and the experience necessary to help obtain and monitor trademarks and service marks around the world.

Your trademarks are valuable and should be protected. We represent clients’ interests involving registered and common law trademarks, service marks, trade names, and trade dress issues.

Trademarks began in common law and now have a statutory basis. Trademarks protect your brand and its goodwill from imitators and usurpers. There are four kinds: trademarks, service marks, certification marks, and collective marks. A trademark typically refers to a word, phrase, logo, symbol, or character (or combination thereof) that’s used in connection with the advertising and sale of products and services, and that serve to indicate the source of those products and services. Commonly known trademarks protect the words or logo of physical things from a brand, company, or product. Service marks protect the words or logo of a brand, company, or individual that provides a service to others. Certification marks protect the logo or symbol of an authority that certifies various goods. Collective marks protect the logo, symbol, or name used by members of a defined group. Trademarks are also important because they embody the qualities and characteristics of the products and services with which they’re used. Overall, consumers use these trademarks to identify and compare different products and services and to make purchasing decisions.

Trademarks generally require use of the trademark in commerce as upon packaging, labeling, website order pages, and brochures of service providers among other things. Trademarks may be registered but don’t necessarily have to be. Trademark protection can be found in state common law and federal trademark law (The Lanham Act). Trademarks that are registered with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office have extra protections, including nationwide constructive notice. The Trademark Office has strict rules and regulations for the format and examination of trademark applications.

Trade dress is the design and shape of the materials in which a product is packaged. Product configuration, the design and shape of the product itself, may also be considered a form of trade dress. The Lanham Act protects trade dress if it serves the same source-identifying function as a trademark. It is possible to register trade dress as a trademark, but for practical reasons most trade dress and product configurations are protected without registration under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a).

Regardless of where you’re located, we can help perform your federal trademark search, prepare your trademark application, guide you through the trademark registration process, respond to a trademark office action, represent you in trademark opposition and trademark cancellation proceedings, and pursue litigation against those infringing on your trademark. Some common claims include:

  • Dilution

  • False advertising, description, or designation of origin

  • Right of publicity

  • Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act

  • Unfair competition

  • Violation of various state Unfair Business Practices Acts

  • Franchising or business opportunity statutes