A Refresher on The Basics of Trademarks

August 19, 2021

At IpHorgan, we love our work. Helping people understand intellectual property law and protect trademarks is the backbone of our services. With over 200 years of cumulative experience in IP law, we are here to answer any questions you may have about what we do. Here are a few of the most common questions we get about trademarks, and their answers.

What is a trademark?

A trademark is a design or word that serves to distinguish the goods of one provider from those of another. Regardless of how similar the products are, the visage of the trademark encompasses the brand and identity of the particular provider it represents. Peanut butter has primarily the same ingredients, but there are many brands that produce it. Jif is distinct from Skippy, which is distinct from Peter Pan, but they all make peanut butter out of finely ground peanuts. As the company’s brand and identity grows, their trademark becomes a part of their ethos. The ethos of a brand like Justin’s peanut butter is distinct from the brand of Jif, and consumers often make decisions on which product to buy based on the associations they have with a particular brand name.

This idea grows immensely more complex when we begin to consider the legality surrounding how a brand or product is trademarked. In the U.S., trademarks are owned by the first to use them, like Apple’s logo — an apple with a bite removed. While we now associate it with an apple from a side profile, there is nothing explicit in the two-dimensional design which likens it to an actual three-dimensional piece of fruit. It is a symbol or sign used to delineate the products that the company creates from other products in the same category. And, it has proven to be highly effective at doing so.

It is a moniker which is instantly recognizable and distinct from any other. Over time we grow to associate certain ideas with that trademark. When you see Apple’s logo you may think of the Iphone, airpods, the apple store, of a clean, streamlined design, or of products with a certain reputation for being well-built. All these things have become associated with Apple’s brand identity.

How do I register a trademark?

You create the first use of a symbol or sign in relation to a product, brand, or service. Then you contact an IP Firm like IpHorgan, for help in the trademark registration process to ensure it’s done right. Documents need to be filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and from then on your trademark will have to be renewed every 10 years. Trademarks also require separate registrations for coverage in other countries.

Trademark registration helps to protect your company and your product against counterfeiting and provides legal protection. It also shows competitors and consumers that you are savvy with intellectual property and serious about your business.

Why register a trademark?

The law presumes the owner of the registered trademark is also the owner of the intellectual property. Without registration, companies are left responsible for demonstrable proof of concept or first use. As time passes, it becomes very difficult to provide this evidence. Contacting legal services early can help prevent any hiccups in your company’s long term growth plan.

What about IP Law and IpHorgan?

It is inherently beneficial, especially in the incipient period of your company, brand, or trademark, to open up conversations with someone versed in IP law. They can protect you from overlooking something important and help to ensure you have the most thorough coverage possible of your IP.

When you’re starting your own “Apple,” the last thing you need is to be weighed down with unnecessary lawsuits and payouts to protect your brand. At IpHorgan we do not think it’s enough to be well-versed, we are meticulous in our pursuit of excellence and professionalism. With over 15 years of experience in this arena, IpHorgan can help protect your brand.

Please contact us to schedule a consultation if you are interested in registering your trademark, or learning more about our comprehensive services!


At IpHorgan, we offer you insight that can only be acquired and meticulously developed during our 15 year history as a team with over 200 years cumulative professional experience working on intellectual property transactions with businesses in nearly every sector of the U.S. and global economy.

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