Trademark

trademark (also written trade mark or trade-mark) is a type of intellectual property consisting of a recognizable signdesign, or expression which identifies products or services of a particular source from those of others, although trademarks used to identify services are usually called service marks. The trademark owner can be an individual, business organization, or any legal entity. A trademark may be located on a package, a label, a voucher, or on the product itself. For the sake of corporate identity, trademarks are often displayed on company buildings. It is legally recognized as a type of intellectual property.

The first legislative act concerning trademarks was passed in 1266 under the reign of Henry III, requiring all bakers to use a distinctive mark for the bread they sold. The first modern trademark laws emerged in the late 19th century. In France, the first comprehensive trademark system in the world was passed into law in 1857. The Trade Marks Act 1938 of the United Kingdom changed the system, permitting registration based on “intent-to-use”, creating an examination based process, and creating an application publication system. The 1938 Act, which served as a model for similar legislation elsewhere, contained other novel concepts such as “associated trademarks”, a consent to use the system, a defensive mark system, and a non claiming right system.

The symbols ™ (the trademark symbol) and ® (the registered trademark symbol) can be used to indicate trademarks; the latter is only for use by the owner of a trademark that has been registered.

A trademark identifies the brand owner of a particular product or service. Trademarks can be used by others under licensing agreements; for example, Bullyland obtained a license to produce Smurf figurines; the Lego Group purchased a license from Lucasfilm to be allowed to launch Lego Star WarsTT Toys Toys is a manufacturer of licensed ride-on replica cars for children. The unauthorized usage of trademarks by producing and trading counterfeit consumer goods is known as brand piracy.

The owner of a trademark may pursue legal action against trademark infringement. Most countries require formal registration of a trademark as a precondition for pursuing this type of action. The United States, Canada, and other countries also recognize common law trademark rights, which means action can be taken to protect any unregistered trademark if it is in use. Still, common law trademarks offer to the holder, in general, less legal protection than registered trademarks.

The essential function of a trademark is to exclusively identify the source or origin of products or services, so a trademark, properly called, indicates the source or serves as a badge of origin. In other words, trademarks serve to identify a particular entity as the source of goods or services. The use of a trademark in this way is known as trademark use. Certain exclusive rights attach to a registered mark.

Trademarks are used not only by businesses but also by noncommercial organizations and religions to protect their identity and goodwill associated with their name.

Trademark rights generally arise out of the use of, or to maintain exclusive rights over, that sign about certain products or services, assuming there are no other trademark objections.

Different goods and services have been classified by the International (Nice) Classification of Goods and Services into 45 Trademark Classes (1 to 34 cover goods, and 35 to 45 cover services). The idea behind this system is to specify and limit the extension of the intellectual property right by determining which goods or services are covered by the mark, and to unify classification systems around the world.

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