Best Tips for Using Your Trademark Properly
Remember that your trademark is an indication of the source of goods or services. It is not the name or description of a specific thing, as such, nor is it necessarily the same as your company name. It is very important that a mark be used correctly, so that the mark’s character is preserved.
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Remember that your trademark is an indication of the source of goods or services. It is not the name or description of a specific thing, as such, nor is it necessarily the same as your company name. It is very important that a mark be used correctly, so that the mark’s character is preserved. Here’s a list of other ways to use your trademark properly.
- Always use the generic description of the goods in combination with the mark
You can make copies on a “Xerox photocopier”; you do not “make a xerox.”
- Never use the mark as a verb
You can “copy” something on a Xerox copier; you cannot “xerox” it.
- Capitalize the mark
Xerox, Craftsman, Kodak.
- Use the word ‘brand’ if necessary to clarify the status of your mark
“Kleenex Brand Facial Tissues,” not “a Kleenex,” and seal packages with “Scotch brand adhesive tape” not “scotch tape.”
- Never let your mark become “generic”
You cannot stop your competitors from talking about their products by pre-empting the name of the product. Thus, if a mark is not used correctly, there is a risk of it being declared generic. A generic mark is not really a trademark but the only way to refer to a product. Some examples of marks that have become generic over the years are “yo-yo” (for “return tops”), “aspirin” (for “acetylsalicylic acid”), “escalator” (for “moving stairs”), “thermos” (for “vacuum flasks”), and “brassiere” (for “ladies’ support garment”).
- Give the proper notice that you intend to reserve rights to a trademark
This is done by putting a trademark symbol (the r-in-a-circle symbol ® for federally registered trademarks, TMor SM for unregistered marks) next to the mark when it is used. It isn’t necessary to clutter every piece of text with the symbol every single time the mark is used; you just need to give “adequate notice” that you consider the word or phrase to be your mark. Certainly, the symbol should be used the first time a mark is used in a document or label, and occasionally thereafter. Some manufacturers put a note on each label or document listing all of the marks on the label or document and noting the trademark ownership (“Scotch® and Magic Tape® are Registered Trademarks of 3M Corporation”).
- If you use someone else’s trademark, acknowledge their rights
That is, if you talk about “Teflon® non-stick coating,” be sure there’s a disclaimer somewhere that “Teflon is a registered trademark of DuPont.”
Source: Michael F. Brown (www.bpmlegal.com) retired in 2017 as partner in the Ithaca, New York, law firm Brown & Michaels PC. Contact the firm at 607-256-2000; Chris Michaels’ email: firstname.lastname@example.org.