What is a trademark?

Hi there if you’re interested in
learning what a trademark is and why we have them stick around I’m gonna break
it down and make it really easy for everyone to understand hi my name’s Bahram Niknia, I’m a
trademark attorney in Los Angeles and I think most people have a pretty general
idea of what a trademark is. You see them everywhere, you pretty much can’t buy
anything that doesn’t have either a word or a logo on it. Very often you’ll see
that (R) next to it or maybe it’ll have the letters TM. Most of us
generally recognized those as being trademarks. But if you’re interested in
actually getting your own trademark it may be helpful for you to have a deeper
understanding of what a trademark really is and what its function is. Ok, so what
is a trademark? Well, the broadest definition of a trademark is that it
can be anything that a manufacturer or a producer puts on a product in order to
tell consumers that that product is originating from a single source. So
let’s use an example to try to understand that a little bit better.
Let’s say you go into shoe store and this shoe store has a bunch of shoes
without any trademarks on them. You find find one that you really like, and you like
it so much you want to buy two pairs, and you find another pair and they look
identically the same as the first pair that you found. But since there’s no
trademark on either one of them you don’t know whether they’re actually
coming from the same source, the same producer, or whether they’re being made
by two different companies and they just happen to look the same. So that’s the
primary function that a trademark provides. It tells the consumer that the
goods are coming from the same source. Now most often, trademarks are going to be one or more words or a logo or a combination of words and logo. But a
trademark can be many different things. It can even be a symbol or shape it can
be a sound or a color or even a fragrance. So long as what you’re using
as a trademark has the ability to tell consumers that the product that it’s on
is coming from a single source, it can function as a trademark. The important thing to remember is that
in order for it to work as a trademark it has to clearly identify and
distinguish your goods from all of your competitors goods. In other words, if
consumers look at what you’re trying to use as a trademark and they can’t use
that distinguish your products from your competitor’s products, then its not really
functioning as a trademark. So let’s use another example going back to our
hypothetical shoe store and in this case let’s say you come across a pair of
shoes that have a label on them that says “sports” or another pair of shoes that say
“leather.” You’re not likely going to look at that and think to yourself that either
the words “leather” or “sports” are telling you anything about the producer or the
source of those goods. You’re more likely to think that the word “sports” and
“leather” are somehow describing a feature or a characteristic of that shoe. On the
other hand, if you see a pair of shoes and they have the word “banana” you’re
more likely to think that that is telling you something about the identity
of the producer or the source of those shoes. And if there’s no one else who’s
using the word “banana” or something similar to the word “banana” on their
shoes, then the word “banana” on a pair of shoes can really clearly distinguish
those shoes from all the other shoes in the marketplace. So that’s the first and
perhaps most important function of a trademark, to clearly identify and
distinguished goods originating from a single source from all other competing
goods in the marketplace. Another function of trademarks is that
they provide quality assurance. They do this because companies invest time
and money into producing products of a certain quality and that quality becomes
represented by the trademarks that they use to sell those products. That’s so much so that in reality, quality and trademarks become really
intertwined in the perception the consumer. When you go to buy a
product, let’s say you’re going to buy a pair of shoes, whether it’s Nike or
adidas, you have a certain expectation with regards to the quality of that
product. That’s usually why you’re going out there to get a product with a
brand name on it because that trademark represents the quality that you as a
consumer expect from that product. Then there’s a third function that
trademarks provide. And this one really benefits manufacturers. When you think
about it, the first two functions are really there to benefit consumers by
protecting consumers interests. But manufacturers also benefit by using
trademarks and that’s because consumers use those trademarks as their principal
means of finding the goods that the manufacturer is producing. And so the
trademark represents to the manufacture the best way to convey to the consumer
the quality and the time and money that’s been invested in making the
product, and then to reap the benefits of all of those efforts by making sure that
the consumer knows how to find those goods and continues to buy them. That inherent value that becomes a part of the trademark is what we call the
trademark goodwill. That’s really what manufacturers try to build and to
create more of, is that trademark goodwill which will increase their
business and increase their sales. I hope you’ve enjoyed this introduction to
trademarks. If you have any questions please post them below or send me an email I’ll
try my best to answer them quickly, and please subscribe so that you get updates
for future videos. Again my name is Bahram Niknia and thank you for watching.

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