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There are many things that people commonly think are trademarks but aren’t. To understand what is not a trademark, we’ll start with what is a trademark.

A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, design, etc. which is used to signify the source of a product or service. Break it down — it’s a “mark” (ie. word or phrase) used in “trade” (ie. in a business).

A very well-known trademark is the Nike “swoosh.” When we see the swoosh on the pocket of a shirt or on the side of a shoe, we know that product came from Nike and not one of its competitors.

Now that we’re aware of what a trademark is, let’s discuss what a trademark isn’t.

I’m going to explain this in the context of a clothing brand; the issue of “that’s not a trademark” often comes up when we’re dealing with apparel and clothing lines. Here’s an example of a common conversation I’ll have with a potential client:

Potential client: “Hi Aiden! I have this great design that I want to put on t-shirts to sell. I think everyone would love this design I created. Before I start selling it, I want to get it trademarked so other people can’t steal my design.” 

Nope! Sorry. That’s NOT a trademark.

You cannot just create a design, put it on a shirt, and call it a trademark. That’s not how this works.

In many situations, the “trademark” is not a trademark at all. Check out this episode of All Up In Yo’ Business to learn more.

Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more All Up In Yo’ Business! Contact us today if you need help with your trademark. Check out the top 3 tips for trademarking your business below.

Want more information on trademarks? Check out: Do I Need a Trademark Attorney?