When a person comes into our office to register a trademark, one of the first things we always discuss is what area of the business world are they intending to enter or protect. Trademarks work on a system of classifications. For a detailed list, they can be found here. These classifications categorize what goods/services your business is in, and accordingly, only grant trademark protection to the categories in which the mark may be filed.
Here’s an easy example. XYZ Inc. has a trademark in XYZ for Metal Goods, Machinery, and Hand tools. A second company, XYZ LLC., has a trademark in XYZ for Food Stuffs and Beverages. Neither of these companies are necessarily violating the others trademark. Each one of these companies have trademarks based on their use in different product classification and cannot prevent the other company from using the XYZ name in other classes of goods. The reason for this is simple. The overall standard of trademark law is “consumer confusion.” No ordinary person off the street will confuse a metal and tool company with a food and drink company, thus trademark protection will only extend to the business activities one uses in commerce.
It is important to think about trademark classifications, as the new digital era has created a heightened branding culture. Finding a unique name is more difficult than ever, and a trademark holder should not invite problems if there is a trademark alive, whether in a competing or sometimes non-competing classification, that could prohibit future growth into separate markets or worse, create confusion in the public as to the source of goods. A trademark holder simply does not want to shoot themselves in the foot with using a name that could be difficult to protect.
Bradley Legal Group, P.A. are Intellectual Property lawyers, Entertainment lawyers and Music lawyers servicing clients in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Orlando, and Nashville. We also affiliate with entertainment lawyers licensed in New York and Washington, D.C. © 2012 Bradley Legal Group, P.A.