Different Types of Idea Protection
By Stephen Paul Gnass
If you have a unique name (or word, symbol, phrase, design, logo, slogan or combination of words) that identifies a product or service you offer for sale, a trademark or servicemark may be the type of protection you need to position your product or service in the marketplace.
Trademarks are extremely important as is shown by companies like ColaCola®, Kleenex®, Xerox®, etc. whose names are household names today and generated enormous profits for the trademark owners.
Decide whether you need local, state or nationwide rights. Usually trademarks cost about $1-2,000. It is advisable to go through a patent attorney due to possible complications that could arise if you do it yourself without the proper knowledge or experience. A booklet "Basic Facts about Registering A Trademark" is available from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
To begin, you should immediately start using "TM" after the name or slogan you're using. Usually the TM is smaller and raised slightly higher than the name or slogan. Be sure to include the TM in any promotional materials, business cards, advertisements, web sites, etc. to let the world know that you consider this mark your trade mark.
Please note that we stress that this is a "PRELIMINARY" federal trademark search. Professional trademark searches are extensive, and include names being used in specific states (state trademarks), corporation names with those words, etc.
Other information at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office information about trademarks is at: http://www.uspto.gov/main/trademarks.htm