What is a Trademark and Its Functions

Trademarks for Small and Medium Sized Businesses

Good naming and good marketing is as important for a business as is running the business. Once John K. Hogg of Frederick Maryland had an idea for a special soap and he applied for a trademark for the same. He called is the STAR SOAP. In his application he wrote that as the name suggests, a star symbol was to be “printed, stamped or impressed upon the outside of each piece is soap”. His naming and marketing skills were impressive, because he had-

  • A simple one-syllable name
  • A meaning to the word that conveyed both his aspirations and the quality of the product
  • And a physical built right into the name

Thus Mr. Hogg got the Trademark #9.

So what is a Trademark?

As defined, a Trademark is any word, slogan, shape, colour, scent, taste or even ay combination of any of the mentioned which in the market, or in commerce is used to identify and distinguish the manufacturer of the product. In simple terms, a trademark is a mark that is applied on the product. So if you are selling footwear, then the mark you apply becomes your trademark. For example, Nike.

This is for the products, but if you are in a services industry, then it is called as a service mark and not trademark. The Service Mark is used when you deliver services. So if you have a bank, and your checking account service is called Smart Checking, then it would have a service mark rather than a trademark.

So why do we need trademarks? What are they for?

When consumers buy a product, and are satisfied with it, they are most likely to buy it in the future. For this, the brand needs to be easily recognizable. Imagine having bought a really comfortable T-shirt. Now you need another one of those. So when you go to buy another one, you are presented with a heap of T-shirts and you have to find that one from them. It sounds hard and tiring right?

Well, that is what trademarks are for. Once your brand is has a trademark, your customers will be able to distinguish your brand, very easily from all the other similar brands. This serves as the main function of a trademark, for your customers to be able to identify your product from many of the other similar products in the market. So when you walk down the aisle of a supermarket, and you are able to pick the exact product from 50 other products, yes, that is the power o a trademark.

Functions Of Trademark

  1. Trademarks enable the companies to distinguish themselves, their brand, and their products from those in the competition. Needless to say,
  2. Trademarks play a powerful role in the branding and marketing strategies of a company.
  3. The reputation of the company, the image of the company, all creates a trust among their clients, which forms the basis of establishing a loyal client base and also the company’s goodwill.
  4. Trademark defines the Origin of the Product.

Sometimes, the customers also form an emotional attachment with some trademarks based on the quality of the products.

Let us now discuss the Value of a Trademark-

If a trademark is carefully selected and nurtured, it can go on to become the most valued asset of the company. The estimates of some of the world’s most famous trademarks like Coca-Cola or IBM exceed 70 billion each. A trademark becomes this powerful because the customers value the trademarks, their reputation, their image and other set of the desired qualities which they associate with the mark and are thus willing to buy the product because it meets their expectations.

Most of the businesses do recognize this importance of these trademarks and the impact it can have on the brand and profits, but not all of them find it necessary to protect them through registration.

It is important that you register your trademark, because then it prevents the other brands from marketing identical or similar products. Without the registration of your trademark, your investments and profits could take a toll, because rival companies may use the same or also a confusingly similar mark and sell similar products and services.

This could not only have an impact on your company profits, but will also confuse your customers. It can also damage the reputation and the image of your company, particularly if the products of your rival company are of a poor quality.

Thus, getting a registered trademark will not only make your brand easily recognizable to your customers, but will only make the company stronger.


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