Trademarks make it easier for consumers to identify your business’ products and services. Trademarks are governed by both Arizona state and U.S. federal laws. Nowadays, federal laws provide the majority of trademark protection, but Arizona state does also register trademarks used within the state and common law actions can still offer protection locally.
The Trademark Act, established by the Lanham Act, protects consumers by discouraging other businesses from adopting a name or logo that is confusingly similar to an existing trademark. While the law is intended to protect purchasers in the marketplace, trademarks serve to protect a business’s commercial identity or brand as well. The trademark attorneys at our law firm can guide you through the best practice to protect your intellectual property.
Trademark Distinctions and Protections
Trademarks need to be distinctive enough to differentiate your products and services from other Arizona businesses. Courts evaluate the strength of the ability of the mark to uniquely identify the underlying product using the following criteria:
- Arbitrary or fanciful marks bear no logical relationship to the underlying product but are highly distinctive and given high protection, e.g., Nike’s “swoosh” logo
- Suggestive marks evoke and make suggestions about a characteristic of the underlying product but still require some imagination, but are considered distinctive and highly protected.
Descriptive marks directly describe a characteristic or quality of the underlying product. Descriptive marks are not inherently distinctive and are protected only when they have acquired secondary meaning.
Descriptive marks develop secondary meanings when the consuming public primarily associates that mark with a particular producer rather than the underlying product, e.g., GameStop, Holiday Inn, Pizza Hut.
Descriptive marks could be terms that describe the underlying product. Courts will research how you’re advertising the product, the volume of sales you’re making, how long you’ve been using the term, and results from consumer surveys before giving a particular manufacturer the exclusive right to use the term because it could create an unfair advantage.
Generic marks describe the general category to which an underlying product belongs but don’t provide much protection. Trademark laws do not protect generic terms because they are too useful for identifying certain products, and trademarking them to a certain business would provide an unfair competitive advantage.
If you’re unsure whether your business is protected under the trademark laws, discuss your brand with experienced trademark lawyers today. They offer free consultations to help you determine if someone is infringing upon your intellectual property rights.
Register My Trademark in Arizona
Registering your trademark in the state of Arizona will offer legal protection for your trademarks locally, but registering a federal trademark will protect your products across the U.S. Currently, all of Arizona’s trademark services are being submitted online.
Do I need a law firm to trademark in Mesa, AZ?
When a trademark qualifies for protection, the rights to that trademark can be acquired by being the first to use the mark in commerce or by being the first to register the mark with Arizona’s Trademark Office and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”).
Unless you are an overseas entity, It is not absolutely necessary to acquire the services of a trademark law firm. However, the state of Arizona recommends using trademark attorneys if disputes should arise since the Arizona Secretary of State is a filing agency and does not have the authority to resolve legal matters involving trade name conflicts.
Your business’ mark can be limited geographically, and that’s another reason why hiring an intellectual property attorney could help you. Legal services specializing in intellectual property disputes in Mesa, AZ, can help you understand where exactly your trademarks are protected.
Arizona Trademark Legal Rights
Registration with the Patent and Trademark Office or PTO is not required for a trademark to be protected, but registration offers a number of benefits, including:
- The right to use the mark nationwide with some limitations noted
- Nationwide notice to others that the trademark is owned by the party
- Enabling a party to bring an infringement suit in federal court
- Allows a party to potentially recover treble damages, attorney fees, and other remedies.
- After five years, the registration can become “incontestable,” conclusively establishing the right to exclusive use of the mark
Applications for registrations need approval from the Arizona Secretary of State or the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. If you feel that your application was unfairly denied, speak with an intellectual property attorney with a thorough understanding of the Trademark Act, and ways to protect your business.
HPS Law Group Can Help
HPS Law Group is dedicated to helping businesses in Mesa, AZ understand their intellectual property rights. If you’ve decided to register your trademark in Mesa, AZ, then our law firm can work with you to develop a strategic intellectual property plan that’s in line with your business goals.
We work hard tailoring your legal needs to your budget. Intellectual property plays a key role in building your business, receiving investments, and becoming profitable.