A Peek at Trademark Law
Trademark law is one of the three branches of Intellectual Property Law. The other branches are Patent Law and Copyright Law.
As an overview, patent law guards new inventions that can be valuable by giving the owner or patentee the right to keep out other individuals from using the said invention in their enterprises. Copyright law, on the other hand, protects the rights of artists for their creation of their works, be it a book, film, or an artwork from any unauthorized imitation of the said work. Copyright law, however, has nothing to do with the idea of the creation or work; it merely protects its expression.
Meanwhile, trademark law protects marks or names that are in connection with the merchandise or product. A trademark can be a word, color, sound, icon, image, phrase, or way of packaging that is acquired and utilized by an organization or corporation for easy recognition of their merchandise and services that will set them apart from other corporations or organizations. Services and not product merchandise, however, are identified by a service mark (which is similar to that of a trademark).
From a historical point of view, trademark law was pioneered by the Englishmen during the 13th century to guard the customers from spurious merchandise. In the late 19th century, the governments of Britain and the United States of America established Trademark agencies that controlled the registration of trademarks.
Basically, trademark law thwarts illegal use of a product-identifying mark or sign and guarantees consumers that the product they are purchasing are made by the same producer and are not poorly manufactured counterfeit products. The law at the same time also promises the producer or manufacturer that imitators will not reap the financial rewards. It also protects the reputation of the real manufacturer.
Trademark fundamentally protects consumers from being duped. It guarantees liberal competition by defending the benevolence of the person or company who possesses the mark. It essentially concerns itself with the buffet of services and commodities.
Trademark law practically has an effect on creative artists as well (writers or authors, designers, etc). It endows creative artists and their business associates broad protections from any unlawful use of a trademark as long as it does not misled the public that the use was endorsed by the owner of the trademark.
Trademark law and the art world connect through titles, trade dress, domain names, literary characters, and mishandling of the name of an author.
Titles are at times protected under unjust competition and trademark laws. It is not protected by the copyright law. Protection of a title is granted when it accomplishes a secondary meaning. Secondary meaning is similar to that of the titles commercial appeal. Titles must also be popularly known to meet the criteria. Usually, titles of series are great trademark contenders. Also, titles in one merchandise can be protected in another type of merchandise. Lastly, one-shot titles are not consequently allowed to trademark protection.
Trade dress, in trademark law, is merchandise’s recognizable image. It is actually the merchandise’s characteristic color, shape, image, packaging, or a combination of these factors that the consumers will easily connect with a certain source.
Domain names are web addresses consigned to certain computers on the internet. These names are extensively utilized by companies in connection with entertainment, information, and publishing. Any use of the domain name without permission is a violation of the trademark right of the owner. Fortunately, current legislations have made battling unlawful trademark users.
In connection with literature, sometimes a story or a novel’s character is so appealing that it actually takes a life of its own outside its original medium. Consequently literary characters may become linked with a certain product. With this occurrence, the literary character can be sheltered by unfair competition and trademark laws, even though it may not protected by copyright anymore.
Trademark law also has sanctions over the mishandling of an author’s name. According to unfair competition laws any author can take legal action against bogus source designation or false advertising if their role to a certain literary piece or work is imprecisely depicted. Another violation of the right of an author is an illegal unauthorized modification of their work.
In a nutshell, the trademark law is concerned about corporate integrity and educated purchasing decisions. It promotes the progress of the society’s economy.
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