A trademark is a symbol or other form of identification particular to a company. This helps consumers identify and associate products or services with the business or legal entity. Other terms used in place of this are logo and brand.
Trademarks may be either registered or unregistered. The main purpose of a trademark is to make the product or service easily identifiable to the market. This helps companies build their brand identities and plays an important part in a company’s execution of its marketing strategy. Both registered and unregistered trademarks are marked. Registered trademarks are identifiable by the letter R, which is enclosed in a circle and displayed in superscript. Unregistered trademarks make use of the letters TM instead.
Since trademarks fall under intellectual property, entities with registered trademarks hold legal rights over these. To register, an application must be filed at the country or territory’s trademark office, where the requirements are reviewed and the proposed trademark is checked against certain criteria. If there is no valid opposition to the application, the trademark is granted to the applicant. Owners of trademarks may take legal action against other entities which commit trademark infringements. Holders of unregistered trademarks are also given certain rights. However, these are limited to areas in which the trademark has already been associated with the company. In cases such as these, the trademark is described as a common law trademark.
The use of trademarks in domain names has spurred action from entities which hold trademark rights. Companies try to maintain control over domain names which make use of their trademarks. Cybersquatters can take advantage of this situation by using certain domain names in the hopes of selling them at a high price to entities which want to keep control of their trademarks in the cyberworld.