Trademark Basics: What Every Small Business Should Know Now, Not Later
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is hoping to present a free informational presentation on trademark basics to the entrepreneurial community. The program starts by discussing how trademarks, copyrights, patents, domain names, and business name registrations all differ. It then explains, once it is established that trademark protection is appropriate, the importance of selecting a strong mark, that is, one that is both federally registrable and legally protectable. It highlights factors important when choosing a mark, such as the possibility of a likelihood of confusion, and explains the importance of doing a complete search and whether an attorney should be used. It identifies other potential grounds for the USPTO to refuse registration. Finally, it establishes what may happen if another trademark owner believes it has stronger rights in a mark and issues a “cease-and-desist” letter. It concludes with information on how to find an attorney and the distinction between what the USPTO does in the federal registration process and what a private attorney could do, and how to avoid "scams" perpetrated by companies that request fees for services not required by the USPTO.