LICENSING – TRADEMARK & BRAND LICENSING
August 7, 2009
TRADEMARK & BRAND LICENSING
A Trademark is a type of mark. Traditionally, the term trademark, described only marks designating products, or goods (as opposed to services). Increasingly, however, the word is used to describe any type of mark, not just traditional trademarks.
A trademark or mark, is any word, phrase, symbol, design, sound, smell, color, product configuration, group of letters or numbers, or combination of these, adopted and used by a company to identify its products or services, and distinguish them from products and services made, sold, or provided by others, that identifies and distinguishes products and services in the marketplace.
A Trademark is one of three legal terms used to describe intellectual property, the others being patent and copyright.
This is distinctive sign or indicator of some kind which is used by an individual, business organization or other legal entity to identify uniquely the source of its products and/or services to consumers, and to distinguish its products or services from those of other entities.
The primary purpose of marks is to prevent consumers from becoming confused about the source or origin of a product or service. Marks help consumers answer the questions: Who makes this product? And who provides this service?
As consumers become familiar with particular marks, and the goods or services they represent, marks can acquire a “secondary meaning,” as indicators of quality. Thus, established marks help consumers answer another question: “Is this product or service a good one to purchase?” For this reason, the well-known marks of reputable companies are valuable business assets, worthy of nurturing and protection.
How are marks protected?
Trademark rights are protected through registration, maintenance, watching, and enforcement. These precautions, and proper use, help preserve the ability of marks to indicate the source of a product or service to consumers.
How should marks be used?
The proper use of marks is crucial, in any campaign to acquire, register, or maintain them. Proper use preserves a mark’s ability to identify the origin of products or services, and increases the mark’s potential for “secondary meaning.” Proper use minimizes the likelihood that a mark will become generic, or be abandoned, unintentionally, by its rightful owner. Proper use also strengthens trademark registrations, and overcomes defenses raised in trademark litigation. The most compelling point to remember is that trademark rights are based upon use. For this reason alone, anyone who cares about her mark, will want to use it properly, and will want others to do so as well.
General Trademark Information
United States Trademark Law – An overview, from the Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law School.
U.S. House of Representatives Internet Law Library ￢ﾀﾓ Trademarks – A collection of trademark links created for theU.S. House of Representatives Internet Law Library, now archived by LawGuru.com. All about Trademarks appears in this collection.
USPTO Trademark FAQ – Frequently asked questions about trademarks and U.S. trademark applications, from the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Trademark Basics – Fundamental information concerning marks, including a trademark FAQ, and links to current articles, published by the International Trademark Association
Nolo’s Legal Encyclopedia – Trademarks and Copyrights – Basic trademark information (and more) from the Editors at Nolo Press.
Trademarks and Business Goodwill – An excellent discussion of what trademarks are; what trademarks are not; why marks are important, and how to choose a “good” mark, by Thomas G. Field, Jr., a Professor at the Franklin Pierce Law Center.
The Intellectual Property Information Mall – Trademark information shopping at the Franklin Pierce Law Center.
Yahoo’s Trademark List – General trademark links, from the “list of lists.”
CataLaw’s Trademark Law Links – A collection of links regarding trademark, media, and advertising law, from CataLaw, a metaindex of law “catalogues” on theWeb.
The Trademark Blog – Martin Schwimmer’s regular, insightful comments and observations regarding current trademark, trade dress, and copyright developments.
Brand licensing is the process of creating and managing contracts between the owner of a brand and a company or individual who wants to use the brand in association with a product, for an agreed period of time, within an agreed territory. Licensing is used by brand owners to extend a trademark or character onto products of a completely different nature.
Brand licensing is well-established business, both in the area of patents and trademarks. Trademark licensing has a rich history in American business, largely beginning with the rise of mass entertainment such as the movies, comics and later television. Mickey Mouse’s popularity in the 1930s and 1940s resulted in an explosion of toys, books, and consumer products with the lovable rodent’s likeness on them, none of which were manufactured by the Walt Disney Company.