A word, phrase, logo, or other graphic symbol used by a manufacturer or seller to distinguish its product or products from those of others.
Trademarks must be used to identify the source of the goods. Trademarks are protected even without registration. Use of a trademark grants certain rights in the location where the trademark is used. These are called common law rights. They are state rights. This is discussed some in the Limited Liability Episode of the Podcast. Registering a trademark, either with the state or the United States Patent and Trademark Office, takes some consideration.
There are several issues, however, when you consider registering your trademark. To begin, it is important to note that there are two types of trademarks you can register: the “standard character” or the “special form”. This distinction is very important for the startup because of the changes your brand may undergo initially.
In some instances, it is very important to ensure you have protected a particular business name or product line because it could get snatched up or you are trying to trade on something that is popular or time sensitive, in that way you need to consider the standard character registration swiftly. A standard character mark is a mark that encompasses the words in any form. That means that your logo can change, but you do not have to register the mark again.
The special form mark, however, is the expression of your trademark in whatever form you register. That means that you will be stuck with a logo that will cost you a lot to change because you will need to register any new versions. Sometimes, it is beneficial to file for both to make sure that you have protected your special design and your words.
Sometimes the decision depends on what a thorough search of the Trademark Registry to determine how you can make your mark effective.