OF A TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENT CASE AND, IN THE PROCESS, OF TRADEMARK
Trademark Law Overview
Trademark law can be baffling to the uninitiated, who tend to equate
domain names and trademarks. Unlike domain names, there is no central
trademark registry where you can apply for a trademark and get an immediate
answer as to its availability for your use, based solely upon whether
or not the trademark you seek is already "taken".
A domain name is a sequence of alphanumeric characters (for example, johns-widgets.com).
If the domain name you seek (an exact sequence of alphanumeric characters)
is not already "taken", you get a registration for the name on the spot.
A trademark or service mark is also a sequence of alphanumeric characters
(leaving aside for the moment the question of design trademarks or service
marks), but there can be multiple trademarks consisting of exactly the
same characters. When you file with the USPTO, you get no prompt commitment,
one way or the other, and the USPTO will not permit you or prevent you
from using the trademark or service mark. Instead, they will simply determine
whether or not they will register it. You'll wait a year or more for a
registration, if you get one at all, and any such registration does not
give you exclusivity with respect to that particular combination of alphanumeric
characters. In point of fact, you don't even get a guarantee of exclusivity
for that particular combination of alphanumeric characters with respect
to the specific goods or services covered by the registration.
If a "mark" (the term refers to both trademarks and service marks
and will be used often to simplify the language) is associated with
goods it is a "trademark", and if it is associated with services, it
is a "service mark." Marks must be associated with either goods
or services, but in many cases the line between the two is a blurry
one. Next: the origin of trademarks.
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