What is a Trademark?

A trademark is phrases, designs, words, or symbols that identify and distinguish the unique source of the goods, services, or information of one party (business, individual, or organization) from those of others. A trademark is recognized by the symbols ™ (not registered) and ® (registered). The ™ symbol can be used for any common law usage of a mark, but the ® symbol may only be used after registration is completed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). A copyright © offers similar protections to that of a trademark. A copyright is geared to artistic works such as books, music, and even websites like this one. There are laws that allow fair use of trademarks and copyright materials, so long as they meet certain criteria and guidelines. The first amendment does not protect against trademark or copyright infringement.

Some examples of registered trademarks:

  1. Walmart®
  2. Starbucks®
  3. BestBuy®
  4. American Express®
  5. Ford®

How much does a trademark cost?

Of course you can do it yourself, however it is NOT RECOMMENDED. Would you buy a house without a REALTOR®? Would you sell your home without a real estate agent? Real estate is like law; some things are just better left to the professionals. The most affordable and practical place to get a trademark is LegalZoom®.. The first step in obtaining a trademark is a search to make sure that the mark is not already in use by another party, avoiding trademark infringement by choosing one that is confusingly similar to another registered mark. We encourage you to do a preliminary search before you spend money on having a search done.

A preliminary search on the USPTO site is only going to locate the mark if someone else has filed to register it. A Google search is another great way to find out if someone else is using the mark you are considering registering. Once you have searched these two ways, you should then proceed with LegalZoom®. We think the standard package which is about $500 with the government filing fees is the most economical.

What is a common law trademark?

Federal registration is necessary to establish common law rights for a trademark. Common law rights are gained through use of the mark. Federal registration is highly recommended and gives the trademark owner significant additional rights not available under common law.

One good question we recently discovered with trademarks is why are there two different "Giant" food stores or grocery chains named "Giant" with different "brand logos". It appears Giant-Carlisle or Giant Food Stores LLC, a subsidiary of Ahold Giant-Landover and Giant Food LLC, is also an Ahold subsidiary.

Giant Food Stores, LLC is an American supermarket chain that currently operates stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia under the names of Giant, FoodSource, and Martin's. Giant is a subsidiary of Netherlands-based Royal Ahold. Giant Food Stores are often referred to as Giant-Carlisle so not to be confused with sister company Giant-Landover. Giant was founded in 1923, when David Javitch opened a small meat market in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The Carlisle Meat Market, as it was known, began as a two-man butcher shop. He purchased a store in Lewistown, Pennsylvania, which he named the Giant Shopping Food Center. It was a big change from the original Carlisle Meat Market in that it was a total grocery store. In 1981, the Javitch family made a key decision to sell the company to Royal Ahold Corporation, a food retailing business based in Zaandam, the Netherlands. Ahold's roots date back to 1887.

Giant Food of Maryland, LLC is a supermarket chain with 170 stores and 156 full service pharmacies in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.. It is headquartered in unincorporated Prince George's County, Maryland, near Landover. Giant often is known as Giant-Landover to avoid confusion with sibling company Giant-Carlisle Giant was founded in 1936 by Nehemiah Meir "N.M." Cohen and Samuel Lehrman. The first store was at Georgia Avenue and Park Road in the District of Columbia. Cohen died in 1995 at age 83. A holding company was formed because "none of the members of my family have had any experience or interest in operating Giant Food..." Three years after Cohen died, Giant was bought by Royal Ahold, the same Dutch conglomerate. It is still really unclear how the two were able to operate without a huge legal battle over the name, maybe because it was generic?