Sophos Law Guides
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What is a Trademark?
- A trademark identifies the source of goods or services in order to promote commerce.
- A trademark right is a potentially perpetual limited monopoly granted by both state and federal law.
You can obtain extra rights by registering the mark federally (which is what most people mean when they say “get a trademark”). However, trademark rights arise simply from being the first to use a particular word, phrase, symbol, or color to identify your specific goods or services.
A stated policy behind granting a limited monopoly on the use of a trademark is to avoid consumer confusion because a lack of consumer confusion promotes marketplace efficiency. Because the right to use a trademark is rooted in commerce, the right is only granted when the trademark is used in public in a way where consumers associate that trademark with the supplier of the goods or services. That means if you come up with a great logo, but you don’t use it in public to identify your goods or services, then you have no trademark rights.