In the United States, trademark registration is one of the few avenues for trademark owners to protect their brand.
Trademarks, however, are just as much a tool for political speech as for commercial and creative expression.
“When you’re talking about trademark protection, you’re not only talking about an issue that’s very important to your own business, but it’s also a tool that allows people to say that they’re going to defend you against the infringement,” says Mark Miller, a lawyer who specializes in intellectual property issues.
“You have to be careful about the word itself, but you also have to have a good idea of what the problem is, and what the rights are that are being infringed on.
And if you have a problem with the word, it may be better to not use it.”
Trademark protection is only available to registered trademarks.
That means that you can’t use a trademark in your advertising.
“A trademark is a piece of information, a piece that you’re identifying with, and that’s the basis for you being able to trademark,” says Miller.
“It’s a trademark.”
If you’re a business that sells goods or services to the public, you may not have a legal claim to use a mark.
For example, a company like the National Football League (NFL) may not own a trademark for the name “Patriots” or “Patriot Games.”
But if you use that name to sell your products and services to consumers, the NFL may have a claim.
Miller says there are two important factors to consider when using trademarks.
“The first one is that you should never put something out that’s going to infringe the trademark,” he says.
“And that’s especially true if you’re going after a brand that is already in existence and has been around for a long time.”
You can also avoid using trademarks if you don’t intend to use them.
“We use a lot of trademarks for marketing purposes,” says Michael Fung, a business professor at the University of Washington.
“If you’re doing something in your marketing that’s not going to directly infringe on the trademarks, then don’t use them.”
And if someone uses your trademark to try to make money, he says, “that’s a bad idea.
That could put your brand at risk.”
“A mark is a specific piece of a work, like a photograph, and so it has a unique, descriptive, descriptive character that sets it apart from other trademarks.
It is not an exclusive or exclusive rights mark, and it has not been licensed or registered by the owner of the mark.
It’s the mark of a person or a company that owns that mark.”
It’s important to know the right mark, Fung says.
He points out that the phrase “National Football League” is registered by a private company, which can be traced to the company’s owner.
“That’s not a trademark, it’s an abbreviation,” Fung explains.
“So the company has a trademark under that abbreviation and it doesn’t have to worry about the person that owns it.”
But you can still trademark a trademark if you want to, Miller says.
You could also trademark the phrase, “Our trademark is the NFL” or use the phrase in your own advertising, for example.
“What happens when a person does use that mark and they use it to create some kind of business opportunity?
They may have to pay a trademark infringement fee,” he explains.
The best way to protect your brand is to be as careful as possible.
“Don’t do anything to put your mark out there that is going to create any kind of negative impact on your reputation or that’s infringing on your rights,” says Fung.
“Be careful about how you use the mark, because if you do that, you might not be able to defend your mark.”
But not all trademark laws apply to your use of your own trademark.
Some, like the Trademark Act of 1909, are intended to protect people who are not a party to the original trademark dispute.
“Trademark law is about the ability to assert ownership rights in a property that has existed for a certain period of time,” says John Fong, a trademark lawyer at the Law Office of John Fung of Chicago.
“Even if you haven’t bought the trademark yet, if somebody else buys that property, then you have rights to the trademark.”
You should also consider the effect on your brand if you are involved in a trademark dispute, Miller notes.
“People are very careful to avoid using marks that are already owned by somebody else.
And you should be careful if you get into a situation where you’re trying to defend against somebody else using your mark,” he adds.
“They’re going, ‘Well, we don’t own this mark.
So why are you using it?’
So you’ve got to be very careful about what you’re using