There are few things that can be as fun, exciting and creative for company executives as creating a business trademark, whether starting a new business or modernizing the look of an established company. Trademarks are arguably the most identifying feature of a business. A strong and unique trademark can help consumers identify a company at a glance, whether it’s a locally-known Texas supermarket chain or a nationally-recognized auto brand.
However, just as with many other business aspects, trademarks can be copied or infringed upon. This is one reason why it’s important to establish a distinctive trademark that’s easily distinguished from others. To create a strong trademark (and to prevent accidentally infringing upon others), the International Trademark Association’s website provides several suggestions:
- Invent or coin a term for the trademark that has no meaning to other businesses or individuals.
- Use a dictionary definition or phrase that is unrelated to the company’s services or products but creates interest.
- Design a stylized symbol, pattern or letter that’s unlike others in the business world and can become easily recognizable or even iconic.
- Search business directories and online for trademarks in the preferred region of business before settling on a design.
- Be aware of local phrases and customs so that a trademark does not accidentally offend or confuse foreign customers.
On the other hand, trademarks that consist of generic words or descriptive terms are not strong enough to be registered or protected by law.
A company owner can protect his or her exclusive right to the trademark if it is infringed, states Cornell University Law School. To do so, the owner must prove to the court that the trademark is legally protected and valid, that the company owns the mark and that the infringer’s use of it could cause confusion among consumers.