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Famous trademarks enjoy a broad scope of legal protection because they are more likely to be associated and remembered in the public’s mind, also known as brand awareness. Start-ups and entrepreneurs do not have same level of legal protection as giants with famous brands. But it’s not all smooth sailing for those famous brands either.

World-famous brands like Nike, for example, are constantly engaged in legal efforts to protect their brand. The more renowned a company is the more likely that someone out there will try and capitalize (free-ride) off of it. Famous brands often need to file lawsuits against people piggy-backing on their trademark. The reason being is that if others can successfully capitalize on the famous brand without legal ramification, they could greatly harm the business by destroying the value of the good will that has been developed over many years in the brand. This is why the owners of famous brands must zealously enforce their trademarks.

Selecting a Unique Trademark

The best way to protect a trademark is to make sure that no one else can use it without the fear of a legal letter in their mailbox. In the future, if your brand has the fame of Google or Amazon and someone uses a close variant of your name, you will have a lot of firepower to do something about it. In the meantime, while you are still just establishing your business and your reputation, the best way to ensure that you will be able to go after anyone trying to free-ride on your developing good will is to adopt a trademark/brand that is easy to enforce.

This means either a fanciful trademark (a made-up, unique term—like for example KODAK or XEROX or KLEENEX) or an arbitrary trademark (actual word that contextually has no relation to your goods or services—think APPLE for computers or UBER for ride sharing services). By selecting a unique, made-up term for your brand (or an arbitrary term that has no meaning in relation to your goods or services) you will be starting off with a strong trademark.

Do your research

Of course, before you start to use the new trademark it’s critical you conduct a comprehensive trademark search to make sure no one else has already adopted and commenced use of a very similar fanciful or arbitrary term as a trademark for closely related goods or services.

This article is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.  If you have questions about any intellectual property related matters, please consult with your attorney.

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Thomas M. Wilentz is a published writer on intellectual property law who has been practicing trademark law for 18 years. His firm, Thomas M. Wilentz Attorney at Law, PLLC, was founded in 2003 and since then has helped clients from all over the USA, as well as from Canada, China, the UK, Australia, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore and many other countries.