March 24, 2020
The Importance of Trademarks
We see trademarks in use every day to identify the source of goods and services. If we see a pair of arches on food or on a restaurant, we immediately identify McDonald’s Corporation. If we see pink insulation, we know it came from Owens Corning, or at least we know that all pink insulation comes from the same company. A properly used and maintained trademark can be one of the most valuable assets a company owns. Imagine the reputational value inherent in the names Disney and Rolls-Royce.
Faith Technologies has built its own trademark portfolio for the same reasons. For example, Faith has federally registered in the United States both its name and its logo because of Faith’s reputation in the industry for high quality and efficiency.
A trademark must be used, maintained and policed to build its value. The more an organization uses trademarks in association with their goods and services, the greater the association with the company becomes. Here are some important guidelines to follow:
- Consistently use appropriate trademarks on products and in articles, press releases, promotional materials, advertisements, product packaging, web pages, manuals and the like.
- The appropriate symbol – TM, SM or ® – should be used in conjunction with each trademark (see below for more information).
- Contracts can include guidelines for use of a company’s trademarks by a partner, or a prohibition on such use.
Although there is no legal requirement to use the symbols TM, SM or ®, there are reasons to do so. Using the symbols notifies the public that the organization claims branding rights in its marks. Such notice should deter others from using the marks and helps to prevent unwitting trademark infringement. The circle R symbol should be used when authorized under federal law (registered, and applied only to the goods and/or services listed in the registration) and cannot be used in other circumstances.
Using the circle R symbol is to a company’s advantage. In an enforcement action, the company will forfeit its right to recover lost profits and money damages unless it can prove the defendant had actual knowledge that the mark was registered prior to the infringing activity. This can be very difficult to prove, so marking is an easy solution and provides future defendants with constructive knowledge of the mark’s registration.
Every instance of the mark does not need to have a trademark symbol. In the alternative, an attribution statement can be used, such as: “Faith Technologies and the Faith Technologies logo are registered trademarks of Faith Technologies, Inc.” Typically, the attribution statement is displayed at the end of a sales piece, in the footer of a document such as a sales pitch or a web page, or on the back of product packaging.
It is important that a trademark be used correctly so that the trademark’s character is preserved. It is also important to recognize that trademarks are adjectives, not nouns or verbs, and should be used as such. Additional information from the International Trademark Association can be found here.