A trademark must be protected. Mishandling can cause the trademark name to evolve into a generic term for merely describing the class or nature of an article. A holder may be denied the renewal of trademark rights, and the product name can become a generic term for competitors' products.

A company or individual holding trademark rights should take the following precautions:

  • Make sure the mark being used isn't already in use. Protect interests through a trademark search by a professional search organization.
  • Use the trademark symbol to indicate that it is the company's selected mark.
  • Once registration is complete, use the ® symbol to indicate that the trademark is officially registered.
  • Consider the services of a trademark-search firm to monitor the valid and unscrupulous use of the mark.
  • Notify in writing anyone who is misusing a trademark.
  • In all advertising, use the trademark as an adjective modifier, rather than as a noun or a verb. Xerox®, for example, is careful to remind the public that Xerox® is a type of photocopier, rather than a process of duplicating a document.

When properly protected, a trademark can last indefinitely.

For further information, contact the Patent and Trademark Office at (703) 308-4357, or (703) 557-4636 for recorded information.