What’s A Trademark Anyway?

What's A Trademark Anyway?

We’re not necessarily talking about Elvis’ trademarked sideburns, or about Catherine Hepburn’s trademarked voice, but these 2 trademarks are not far from our goal either.

So, what exactly is a trademark anyway? Trademarks are everywhere you look, but can you easily spot them? Do you really know what they are?

Trademarks are a strange animal and it’s necessary that you get to know them if you have business endeavors of any kind as they can protect your brand and intellectual property (IP) in court.

How To Trademark Words & Phrases
How to Trademark WordsEver wanted to know what trademarking is and why companies do it? Ever thought about doing this for your own company? (you should!)

Check out our Trademarking 101 guide for in-depth advice on how to protect your brand through trademarking, how to find great ideas for trademarkable IP, and more…

The definition of trademark is a pretty simple one. It is only later that the topic gets complicated. Basically, a trademark is just a sign of some kind that distinguishes a company from all other companies, and sits under the umbrella of intellectual property (IP)¬†which also includes patents, copyrights, designs, and more. A trademark can come in many different forms. Maybe it’s am image or a turn of phrase.

The Main Benefit Of Trademarking

A trademark can open your company up to all kinds of business and separate it from the pack, but if it’s not formed carefully, it may misrepresent and misdirect your company.

So choose your trademark intelligently and make sure that you understand the law backing it up so that you can put it to good work.

If you have a business and you’ve acquired or created IP related to that business you can take people to court if they use your trademarked IP without permission. This is the main benefit of trademarking, and it’s why a lot of companies do it. Trademarking basically grants them immunity in court against thieves of their IP.

It’s important that your company has a signature and unless it’s protected, it’s useless and can be used by just about anyone. A trademark can seem like a simple enough concept, but if you overlook it, it could cost you a lot of money down the road, or even your entire business. That’s why many companies trademark their IP.

When talking about trademarks, you’re bound to get into some murky water. For instance, some marks, logos, phrases, images, etc, become trademarks over time, if by chance they simply grow to become synonymous with a particular product or service.

When we think of trademarks in this way, it’s pretty apparent that a trademark is not a narrow concept at all. Anything that conspicuously distinguishes something from something else, in a sense, can technically be a trademark.


Ever wondered what the deal with those little circles that have TM and R in them is? Ever wondered what they mean and why companies use them in their brand?

Well, the TM circle means trademark while the R refers circle means registered trademark. Both these symbols serve as unobtrusive reminders that the trademark is protected by law.

There are both unregistered and registered trademarks out there, the latter obviously carrying more weight in a court of law. Most of the trademarks you see on TV and in magazines are registered.

Types Of Trademarks

There are 5 basic types of trademarks:

  • distinctive
  • arbitrary
  • suggestive
  • descriptive
  • generic

On the other hand, there are some symbols that can never be used in trademarks, such as national flags. It’s also important to note that national and international trademark law vary, so especially if you are conducting business overseas, you should be aware of that.

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