Most times trademarks are often mentioned in the same breath as copyright and patents though; they do sometimes apply to the same thing they are often defined by their differences. It’s important to understand how trademark law differs from other laws protecting creative works (collectively called ‘intellectual property law’; rules and benefit depends on the type of intellectual property at issue.
A trademark is a sign attached to a commodity or service to facilitate and enhance its marketing. It indicates to consumers the source and reputation of the owner of the trademark and provides the owner with an important advertising tool as well as enabling the exploitation of products.
It is important to note that while trademarks are used in reference to signs and graphical representations they may also consist of words, names, designs, letters and numerals.
The registration of a trademark is what confers an exclusive personal property right in the trademark entitling its owner (on proprietor) to remedies for infringement of use. Thus the basic objective of registering a trademark is to obtain protection against possible infringement.
The Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual property Rights (TRIPS) provides that the owner of a registered trademark has an exclusive right to prevent all third parties not having its consent from using, in the course of trade, signs for goods or services which are identical or similar to those in respect of which the trademark is registered, especially where such use would result in the likelihood of confusion.
For instance if Company ‘S’ has a registered trademark ‘S’ it has exclusive rights to ‘S’ thus no other company can make use of that sign without its consent. Ok is it possible for you to see a Coca Cola Sign on a Pepsi bottle right? No you guessed right if that should happen it would result in law suits!
Trademarks are different from Copyrights in that Trademark laws protect distinctive words, phrases, logos, symbols and any other devices used to identify and distinguish products or services in the market place. Copyright law on the other hand protects original works of expression such as fine and graphic arts, photography, software, Video, Cinema , novel etc. by ensuring that people are prevented from commercially exploiting them without the copyright owner’s permission. Copyright laws do not protect names, titles, or short phrases. That’s where trademark law comes in.
There are, however, areas where both trademark and copyright law may be used to protect different aspects of the same product. For example, copyright laws may protect the artistic aspects of a graphic or logo used by a business to identify its goods or services, while trademark may protect the graphic or logo from use by others in a confusing manner in the marketplace. Similarly, trademark laws are often used along with copyright laws to protect advertising copy. The trademark laws protect the product or service name and any slogans used in the advertising, while the copyright laws protect the additional creative written expression contained in the ad.