Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Trademark - Using your trademark correctly

     Using a trademark correctly is important because building your brand takes resources, and a failure to use your mark correcly can jeopardize your exclusive rights to use the mark. For example, "aspirin" and "escalator" were once trademarks (Wikipedia cite). However, because their respective owners failed to use properly their marks and failed to protect their marks, the marks became generic and available for use by anyone.

     Last week, on April 28th, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller started a kerfuffle when he wrote on Twitter that Apple devices should not be pluralized. Apparently Apple CEO Tim Cook might need a refresher on how to describe Apple devices.

Mr. Schiller's position is understandable because trademarks are adjectives that modify a generic noun, and he was trying to ensure that Apple's marks are used properly.

     Proper education concerning how to use a trademark is easy and extremely important.  Some rules to follow are:

1.  Trademark are adjectives -- not nouns or verbs.
2.  Do not use a trademark as a plural or in a possessive form.
3.  Use the mark only on or in connection with the identified goods or services in the Registration Certificate.
4.  Use a trademark notice at least once per document in a prominent fashion. Use ™if your mark is not registered, and ® if your mark is registered.
5.  Don't vary the registered mark.
6.  Monitor the usage of your mark.
7.  Trademark rights are territorial. Only use ® in countries you have registered your mark.

- Henry Park

updated March 1, 2017

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