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okay I think I understand copyright basics but now what is the deal with trademarking. Someone in an earlier post said Donald's Your Fired was protected what if I made a my favorite beer is bud and the graphic looked similar to the orginal but not exactly. Is that okay? I saw a guy at the gym with a tee on that pictured a bud can (it looked very much like it) but then in the middle instead of Budwieser it said College. Is that legal? Timex's "It keeps a licking and keeps on ticking" is that trademarked or copyrighted? or as long as it doesn't pertain to a timepiece would I be able to use it for something entirely different?
Thanks
 

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The Timex phrase you mentioned wouldn't be copyrighted (can't copyright a short phrase). I don't know for sure if it's Trademarked or not, but it's very very likely.

Would you be able to use it for a completely different purpose? Maybe (but don't bet on it). Trademarks are generally in connection with a specific line of business (e.g. Time Magazine have a trademark on its use in that context, but they couldn't stop a public transport company using the same name (though someone else probably has a mark that could)), but most large corporations aren't in just one line of business.

Virgin, for example, are in phones, planes, music... and probably several other things. They're currently sueing a clothing company for use of the word "Virgin" in their business name.

To go back to your Timex example... I doubt you could ever use it, because if the line was actually relevant it would be an infringement. If it's not an infringement, it's nonsenically irrelevant. This is part of the problem using anything that falls under a TM. If it's useful to you, they would consider it useful to them - which means they'll sue.

The less generic a mark, the more lattitude there is to use it in another context. For example, Time is a standard English noun in extremely common usage - so there's only certain contexts it can be protected against. Viagra on the other hand is a made up word, so they have more power to restrict its use.

However, unlike a copyright a trademark has to be actively enforced by its owner if they want to keep hold of it. If it falls into common usage it can be declared a "common word" by the courts, which means the owner will no longer have exclusive rights.

Interestingly I was going to say the two most common examples are Kleenex and Xerox, but upon looking them up I find they are still Trademarked - though in both cases they are hanging on by the skin of their teeth. Examples would be aspirin and bikini - both were once exclusive trademarks, now they are both generic words for the product they represent.

To my mind Trademark law is even more complicated than Copyright law, and not something to be messed with by non-lawyers.
 

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I'm in the process of Trademarking my name. I also filed online, if you pick the the TEAS PLUS form it is only $275. Spoke to lawyers who said they'll ask $900...
It is supposed to take about 4-5 months if there are no problems. We'll see!
Michelle
 

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It took me about a year (or more) to fully get my trademark processed from time of submission to getting an official registration number.

They also reject a lot of trademark applications, so you have to remember the $275 or $375 is just for the application fee. If there is another similar existing trademark of if they don't feel your brand is unique enough, they will likely reject it.

Usually lawyers or trademark service providers will do all types of searches to make sure your application will be less likely to be turned down.

If your application gets turned down, there are even specialists who handle trademark appeal letters to help get your trademark pushed through.
 
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