You see them everywhere, but why do people use them and what do they mean?
Last time, we talked about the © , which is for copyrights. This time, we’re talking about the ™, which as many of you know, signifies a trademark. A trademark is a word, name, phrase, symbol, sound, or even color that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others..
Plain English, Please!
Okay, so there are a couple of parts to this. It looks like anything can be a trademark from that long list of things that they have in their definition. That is sort of true as long as it “identifies and distinguishes the source of goods” – which we will get to what the heck that means in a bit. Some examples of trademarks: that apple with a bite out of it on your Mac, the roar of the MGM lion before the next movie you watch, the name “Kleenex,” or the phrase “I’m lovin’ it” for McDonald’s. All of these different things are trademarks.
Now for the second part – it has to identify or distinguish the source of goods. So, you come up with a sick drawing of a little alien dude. You could register a copyright for that drawing, but you can not register a trademark for it at this point. Then you decide that you are going to put this little alien drawing on your craft ginger beer…which you give away to friends at parties. Still not a trademark. Then your friends LOVE IT and tell you “dude! you gotta sell this at the farmer’s market!” So, you do. You start selling your Alien Ginger Beer at the local farmer’s market.
NOW you can trademark the little alien guy in connection with your ginger beer. Why? Because people will associate the alien with your COMPANY and with your PRODUCT. When they go to Whole Foods (once you scale your product because of high demand), they will scan the shelves looking for your alien guy and will recognize your ginger beer because it has the alien on it.
So, why a TM? Well, that means that you haven’t registered your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. You can slap that ™ on there as soon as you start selling that ginger beer at the farmer’s market. It puts the world on notice that you are reserving it.
BUT even though you’re reserving it, you could still be limited by where people would likely buy your ginger beer – so people in your local area. No desire to get that Whole Foods national distribution deal? That’s cool. Maybe this is good enough, but if you’re ready for that next level, well, stay tuned for what happens with the ® .
Email me at [email protected] to find out if you are ready to slap this trademark symbol on your work or schedule a telephone meeting.