What Isn’t Protected by Trademark?

Trademarks are an effective form of intellectual property protection, but they are not the only form of IP security.  

We know what can be protected by a trademark, but it is important to also be aware of what isn’t.  

Your trademark will exist from the moment that it is created, and is a distinguishable feature of your brand. 

A trademark alone can offer protection against infringement, but registering your trademark can add an additional layer of IP protection.  

In order to offer you the best possible level of protection, trademark registration is a rigorous process, which seeks to ensure that your trademark is not infringing upon another mark (or being infringed upon). 

For this reason, your proposed mark might be denied for a number of reasons. 

The most obvious of reasons is perhaps when a trademark, or element of a proposed mark, is already in use.  

A trademark can be denied if it sounds similar, looks similar, or has the same meaning as another registered mark.  

This can even apply to words in different languages, when in relation to the same trademark category. 

Furthermore, a trademark cannot be purely descriptive of a brand’s products, as descriptive words are too general.  

Customers are unlikely to think of a brand in relation to a descriptor alone. 

These things all have the potential to cause confusion among consumers, and so would not be in the best interest of either the brand or the customer. 

In these cases, you may have to make changes to your mark. In similar marks, the one that existed later will face possible changes, as there is proof of the former being in existence for a longer period of time. 

Is a trademark the right form of IP protection for your work? 

There may be some confusion over what form of IP protection is best suited to your work.  

Trademarks, as we know, relate to branding.  

If you wish to protect an invention, then a patent is the form of IP protection that will best protect your work. 

Original creative works are protected by copyright. Some elements of copyright-eligible work may overlap into a trademark, such as design elements. 

In this case, then a trademark may cover all aspects of your branding, whilst a copyright will only protect the artistic elements. 

Registering your trademark can help to fine-tune your mark, and offer you the best protection possible for your brand. 

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