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