Just about any symbolic device that distinguishes your goods from those of another can become a common law or registered trademark. Trademarks may be words, images, spoken phrases, even sounds or smells. In some cases, the totality of a company's goods or services boasts some distinctive, non-functional feature that qualifies for protection as trade dress. This may be the overall look of a product line, the design and format of a magazine, even the shape or decoration of a building. In cases where the product configuration itself is distinctive, it may be entitled to protection.
Registering your trademark is not mandatory in the United States. Still, making use of an unregistered mark invites infringement conflicts and affords you less protection. For full protection, the wise approach is to apply for registration of all-important marks used in your business. Before filing an application, we can search federal, state and common law trademark databases for conflicting marks. When requested, we can search international databases for companies doing business abroad. If the mark is available, you may apply to register it on the state level, with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for interstate commerce, and in foreign countries if you plan to do business abroad.
Trademark infringement is just one of several deceptive and wrongful acts of unfair competition that cause economic injury to a business. Other practices that constitute unfair competition include false advertising, misappropriation of intangible assets that cannot be trademarked or copyrighted, theft of a trade secret, trade libel and false representation of products or services. Our firm is experienced in negotiating settlements of these and other types of business disputes. In the event of an irreconcilable conflict, we always stand ready to defend or prosecute a suit on your behalf in state or federal courts.
You cannot register a trade secret, and rights to the secret exist only as long as it is kept confidential and outside the public domain.
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