An administrative branch of the U.S. Department of Commerce charged with overseeing and implementing the federal laws on patents and trademarks. This includes examining, issuing, classifying, and maintaining records of all patents and trademarks issued by the United States.
An investigation to discover any potential conflicts between a proposed trademark and existing ones, and preferably done before a new trademark is used in commerce. A trademark search reduces the possibility of inadvertently infringing a mark belonging to someone else. A business can conduct a preliminary search using the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's online trademark database. The most thorough trademark searches are accomplished by professional search firms.
A grant by a state or the federal government indicating that a trademark has met certain statutory requirements. Federal trademark registration makes it easier for the owner to protect against would-be copiers and puts the rest of the country on notice that the mark is already taken. Registration will not occur until a mark has been used in commerce.
The person or entity who retains legal control over all (or some) of the rights granted under trademark law, usually the first business to use a distinctive trademark on goods or services in commerce. Federal registration is not a prerequiste of trademark ownership but it offers the trademark owner certain benefits. (See also: trademark registration)
When a trademark that is not distinctive acquires a meaning within the marketplace such that consumers associate it with the product or service. For example, though first names are not generally considered distinctive, Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream has become so well known that it has acquired secondary meaning and is entitled to trademark protection. Proving secondary meaning requires evidence of public recognition through use and exposure in the marketplace.
The status of any creative work, invention, or device that is not protected by copyright law. Such items are available for use without permission. Often, works enter the public domain after patent, copyright, or trademark rights have expired or been abandoned.
The primary list on which trademarks that meet certain federal filing standards are placed. The benefits of getting a mark placed on the Principal Register include the notice to potential copiers that your mark is valid and protected, the right to sue to stop copying, and the right to have the mark considered immune from legal challenge after five years of continuous use.
1) Crimes of robbery, kidnapping, and similar activities on the high seas. The trial and punishment of such pirates may be under international law, or under the laws of the particular nation where the pirate has been captured. 2) A colloquial term without legal significance often used to describe willful copyright, patent, and trademark infringement.