What is a trademark?
A trademark includes any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination, used, or intended to be used, in commerce to identify and distinguish the goods of one manufacturer or seller from goods manufactured or sold by others.

What’s the difference between trademarks, copyrights, and patents?
Trademarks protect brand names and logos. Trademark protection is incredibly broad, as virtually anything that is used to identify and distinguish goods or services in the marketplace can be a trademark. Copyrights protect original works of authorship. This can include things such as literary works, visual arts, musical compositions, motion pictures, software, and architecture. Please contact Elliott & Davis for assistance with all your copyright needs.
Patents protect various inventions. Patent protection extends to any novel, useful, and non-obvious device.

I often see various symbols such as “TM,” “SM,” “®,” and “©.” What do these symbols mean, and when can I use them?
“TM” is used for an unregistered trademark. Generally, this symbol may be used in connection with any mark that is used to promote goods; however, such use may be subject to applicable local or state law.

“SM” is used for an unregistered service mark. Generally, this symbol may be used in connection with any mark that is used to promote services; however, such use may be subject to applicable local or state law.

“®” is used for a registered trademark or service mark. The federal registration symbol may be used once the mark is actually registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and then only in connection with the goods or services that were the subject of the application. If your trademark application is still pending, you may not use this symbol until your mark has actually been registered.

“©” is used for copyrighted works. This symbol may be used in connection with any work that is the proper subject of copyright protection. It is not necessary to obtain copyright registration in order to use this symbol.

Do I have to register my trademark?
No, but there are many benefits to doing so.

How long does the trademark registration process take?
The process for federal trademark registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office usually takes roughly one year to complete. The time needed to complete your registration will, of course, vary depending on whether your application encounters problems or opposition during the registration process.

How long will my trademark rights last?
If you are the owner of a federally registered trademark, your trademark rights can last indefinitely, as long as you comply will all necessary procedures for renewing your trademark.

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