Many New Jerseyans routinely rely on Uber Technologies to help them to get where they need to go. They might not realize that the tech giant was sued for trademark infringement for its name, however.
Of the 1,000 most commonly used words in the English language, 81 percent of them have been used to create single-word trademarks. That may be a hindrance to companies in New Jersey and elsewhere that are looking to create quality brand names. The study, which was published in Harvard Law Review in February, analyzed 6.7 million trademark applications from 1985 to 2016. It also included 300,000 marks that were already registered as of 1985.
New Jersey residents and others who are starting a business may find that many of their preferred names are already trademarked. Of the 100,000 most commonly used words, 75 percent of them are trademarked. Even if a particular name is available, it may not be wise to use it. For instance, those who use their last name as part of their business name might lose rights to that name if the company is sold.
New Jersey residents may know that the Super Bowl attracts millions of viewers and generates billions of dollars in revenue each year. The National Football League has a reputation for fiercely protecting its brand and intellectual property, and the league was joined by the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles on Jan. 24 in filing a lawsuit against an unnamed group of defendants to prevent the widespread counterfeiting of official Super Bowl merchandise.
New Jersey residents and others who watched the Super Bowl may have seen a trick play called the "Philly Special." The play involved a throw from the Eagles tight end to the quarterback, who caught the ball for a touchdown. On the Monday after the Super Bowl, one man filed an application for a trademark to the phrase Philly Special Cheesesteak. Another wanted to trademark the phrase for a clothing line.
Trademark hopefuls in New Jersey may be interested in a trademark case decided in December 2017 that struck down some restrictions on obscene or offensive speech used in trademarks. The case played out as a contest between First Amendment rights and the obligation the government has to protect the population from offensive speech. In this instance, the First Amendment seems to have won the day.
Business owners in New Jersey can create a trademark for their business regardless of the size of their enterprise. Trademarks can be used to protect the logo, name or slogan of businesses. However, business owners should know what type trademark they can have and how to register it.
Registering a trademark in the United States is insufficient to protect the interests of a New Jersey company that wants to market goods and services overseas, especially in China. Chinese law defends the intellectual property rights of those entities that register a claim within the country first. This means that a Chinese company can claim a trademark recognized in the U.S. as long as it does it before the creator of the brand. A U.S. company entering China could then be forced to buy the rights from the holder of the Chinese version of the trademark.
New Jersey residents may know LeBron James from his time in the NBA. He has also formed a company called LBJ Trademarks that deals with trademarks such as those for inspirational quotes or sayings. While it may seem odd that someone can trademark a phrase, doing so can mean millions of dollars for the trademark holder. As it relates to simple words or phrases, a person may be able to trademark it even if he or she wasn't the first one to say it.
New Jersey businesses are able to seek copyrights and trademarks of their intellectual property in order to protect it. After companies file for copyrights or trademarks with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, their proposed marks and intellectual property will be investigated to make certain that they comply with the law and are not too similar to material that has already received trademarks or copyrights.