Trademarks and Trademark Protection – Part 1: What Actually Is a Trademark?
A trademark is often the first thing customers see of a company. It makes them remember the company, as it enables to create associations with it. But what can form a trademark, and why is it so important not only to maintain a trademark, but also to protect it legally? In a series of articles, STARTUPS.CH is going to answer all these questions.
What Is a Trademark?
In legal terms, a trademark means a protected trademark. Companies can thus identify their goods or services to distinguish them from those offered by their competitors. Accordingly, a trademark is an identification feature. It makes it easier for a company to be remembered by its customers and build relations with them, and it also makes associations between a company and certain qualities and properties.
What Kinds of Trademarks Exist?
In general, there are four different types of trademarks: logo, text mark, combined logo and text mark, three-dimensional mark and acoustic mark. Almost everything can be subsumed into that. In practice, it is the first three categories which are the most relevant. This is the reason why only they are explained in more detail here.
As the name itself suggest, a logo is a graphics component or a combination of graphics components. No text component is included here.
A text mark can consist of a single word, motto or slogan. But it can also be just a combination of letters or numbers.
A combined logo and text mark contains both graphics and text components. It can take the form of an image with some wording or a text rendered in a very graphical/figurative way.
Why Should Trademarks Be Protected?
As already said, a trademark is closely linked to the company it belongs to. Hence, trademarks can be extremely valuable. To prevent a competitor from enjoying the benefits of the trademark you have built, it is important to have it protected. Only if a trademark is protected, its owner can forbid its unauthorised use by third parties.
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