US-Marken- und Urheberrecht

Nachfolgend ein kleiner Überblick zum US-Gewerblichen Rechtsschutz, Auszug aus der September / Oktober 2011 Ausgabe German American Trade, der Mitgliederzeitschrift der Deutsch Amerikanischen Handelskammer (GACC), New York, deren Mitglied NIETZER & HÄUSLER ist.

U.S. Trademark Basics. Generally speaking, a trademark is something that distinguishes the source of goods or services from that of another. Thus, a trademark can be a company name or logo used on a company website, a distinctive shape or color of a particular good, or anything that uniquely identifies and links a particular good or service to a specific source. The strength and value associated with a trademark depends on the distinctiveness of the mark and the reputation and goodwill established by the busi-ness using that mark.

Two main methods exist for attaining trademark rights in the United States. The first is by using a particular mark in trade or business and the second is by filing an appli-cation in the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”). Applications can be based on use or a bona fide intent to use the mark in the future. Once an entity adopts a trademark, the letters “TM” should be affixed to the item being trademarked to give notice to others. Once the mark is actually registered, this symbol should be changed to an ®. A registered trademark can be renewed as long as it remains in use and has not become generic or diluted so that it no longer identifies its source.

Although not required, it is extremely beneficial to register a trademark with the PTO. The main advantage is that it gives the holder nationwide rights even if the mark is used only in certain areas of the United States. Generally, if a lawsuit is filed against an infringer the registrant can seek damages for lost profits or for damages to its reputation ...

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