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A basic overview of what a trademark can do

A trademark is one way in which companies in Colorado and throughout the country can protect their intellectual property. Generally speaking, words, logos and graphics can be eligible for a trademark, which means that only a specific company is allowed to use it. A trademark holder can allow other entities to use it. Ideally, organizations will first ensure that a logo, word or graphic is not being used by another party before seeking a trademark.

While a trademark gives a brand more power to control how its intellectual property is used, a brand is not given unlimited rights. A trademark generally only lasts for 10 years, and a company may need to show that is still being used during that period. Furthermore, other companies may get exceptions to use words or phrases that are similar to those that are trademarked.

This is generally true if customers can distinguish between two brands that have products or services with similar names. It also may be difficult to get a trademark if it is for a good or service that sounds vulgar or crude. This may be true even if it does set the brand apart from others currently in the marketplace. Words or symbols that are too vague are also likely to be rejected as items that can be protected by a company.

While trademarks can be an effective way to protect intellectual property, they are just one tool to do so. An attorney may talk more about nondisclosure agreements and other ways to keep an idea away from the competition. However, legal counsel may also provide insight into how to get a trademark or how to defend one after it is acquired. Typically, failing to defend a trademark could weaken it or render it obsolete.

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