What is a Trademark?
A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. Trademarks are often used as a branding or marketing device in order to set a product apart from other similar products on the market.
A service mark is the same as a trademark, except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product.
For example, Coca-Cola has hundreds of registered trademarks, such as the wavy design script of its main logo, or the words, “Coca-Cola Classic.” UCLA also has several registered trademarks, including the “UCLA” logo.
Can I use the UCLA Logo?
In order to legally reproduce the UCLA logo, such as for clothing, you must gain permission from ASUCLA in the form of a license. For more information about proper usage and licensing of UCLA’s trademarks, please visit http://www.asucla.ucla.edu/licensing/index.asp.
Should I register my mark?
Registering your mark is not necessary and is not required.
You can establish rights in a mark based on legitimate use of the mark. However, owning a federal trademark registration on the Principal Register provides several advantages, for example:
- constructive notice to the public of the registrant's claim of ownership of the mark;
- a legal presumption of the registrant's ownership of the mark and the registrant's exclusive right to use the mark nationwide on or in connection with the goods and/or services listed in the registration;
- the ability to bring an action concerning the mark in federal court;
- the use of the U.S registration as a basis to obtain registration in foreign countries; and
- the ability to file the U.S. registration with the U.S. Customs Service to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods.
When can I use the trademark symbols TM, SM and ®?
Any time you claim rights in a mark, you may use the "TM" (trademark) or "SM" (service mark) designation to alert the public to your claim, regardless of whether you have filed an application with the USPTO. However, you may use the federal registration symbol "®" only after the USPTO actually registers a mark, and not while an application is pending. Also, you may use the registration symbol with the mark only on or in connection with the goods and/or services listed in the federal trademark registration.
As a faculty member or student, is it worth it to register a trademark?
Registering a trademark is costly and time-consuming. For a student or faculty member, it truly depends on the individual’s circumstances to weigh the cost of preventative measures against the possibility of another party’s infringement of the trademark. You may want to consult your attorney or UCLA Campus Counsel if you have any infringement concerns.
Basic Facts about Trademarks from the United States Patent and Trademark office (USPTO): http://www.uspto.gov/main/trademarks.htm
UCLA Office of Trademark & Licensing: http://www.asucla.ucla.edu/licensing/index.asp.
UCLA Campus Counsel: http://www.campuscounsel.ucla.edu/