How Not To Invalidate Your Trademark. Proper Use Of Trademarks.

Whether or not you chose to register your trademarks, you should know 6 important things you must do to make sure you are using your trademarks properly.

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NARRATOR: Abdul-Aziz runs a shawarma restaurant ARABELLA.

He already registered his trademark ARABELLA and his design mark will soon be registered as well but he is not exactly sure how to use his mark properly in his menus and on his website.

ABDUL-AZIZ: Hello, I have a question about how to put my trademark in my menus and on my website.

TRADEMARK FACTORY: Happy to help. There are 6 things you need to consider.

TRADEMARK FACTORY: You should use the ™ symbol next to all words and logos that you treat as your brands. Importantly, you may use the ™ symbol even without having to file a trademark application and without asking anyone’s permission.

ABDUL-AZIZ: That means that I can put it next to my design?


TRADEMARK FACTORY: Once your trademark is registered, you can use ® next to your trademark.

ABDUL-AZIZ: That’s easy!

TRADEMARK FACTORY: You should also display an ownership statement in your menus, promotional materials and at the bottom of your website.

TRADEMARK FACTORY: An acceptable statement can look like this:

TRADEMARK FACTORY: The registered trade-mark ARABELLA® is owned by Chilliwack Arabella Inc.

ABDUL-AZIZ: I can add this statement, for sure.

TRADEMARK FACTORY: You must make sure not to use your trademark generically.

ABDUL-AZIZ: What do you mean?

TRADEMARK FACTORY: All trademarks are supposed to identify a particular source of products or services. Don’t use them to refer to the category of your products and services.


TRADEMARK FACTORY: Linoleum, escalator, cellophane, laundromat and aspirin — all used to be trademarks. Their owners didn’t mind when customers went out and bought “some linoleum”, rode “an escalator”, wrapped something “in cellophane”, washed their laundry in a nearby laundromat, or took an aspirin. So these brands became simple dictionary words that identify categories of products, instead of identifying a particular company that makes them. Instead, the owners of these trademarks should have insisted on the following uses: “LINOLEUM rolling carpets”, “ESCALATOR moving stairs”, “CELLOPHANE plastic tape”, “LAUNDROMAT laundry”, and “ASPIRIN pills”.

ABDUL-AZIZ: I get it. So what do I do with Arabella?


TRADEMARK FACTORY: In your menus and promotional materials, your trademark should be differentiated from the surrounding text.

ABDUL-AZIZ: So I can choose any way to differentiate my brand?

TRADEMARK FACTORY: You got it! Another important thing for you to remember is not to change your trademark.

TRADEMARK FACTORY: Just as you should always register the trademarks that you use in your business, you must always use your trademarks as they were registered. Using modified versions of your trademarks is dangerous.

ABDUL-AZIZ: Why is that?

TRADEMARK FACTORY: Let me first give you a few examples.

TRADEMARK FACTORY: Don’t change the spelling of your trademarks. ARABELLA is not the same thing as ARUBELLA.

TRADEMARK FACTORY: Don’t change plurality of your trademarks. ARABELLA is not the same thing as ARABELLAS.

TRADEMARK FACTORY: Don’t use your trademark as a verb.

TRADEMARK FACTORY: And don’t create possessives from your brand. ARABELLA shawarma is not the same thing as ARABELLA’s shawarma.

ABDUL-AZIZ: I think I understand now. I was using it wrong. I am going to fix it now. One last question: Why is it important to use the trademark properly? It’s already registered, so why bother?

TRADEMARK FACTORY: If a trademark is not used properly, you may lost your trademark rights because anyone may request the Trademarks Office to cancel your trademark that you haven’t used for the last 3 years. You wouldn’t want that to happen, would you?

ABDUL-AZIZ: No! I’m not going to take a chance. Thanks for your wisdom!

TRADEMARK FACTORY: You are welcome.

ABDUL-AZIZ: Would you like to try our new ARABELLA killer-sauce shawarma?

TRADEMARK FACTORY: I would love to!

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Disclaimer: Please note that this cartoon is not and is not intended as legal advice. Your situation may be different from the facts assumed in this cartoon. Your watching this cartoon does not create a lawyer-client relationship between you and Trademark Factory International Inc., and you should not rely on this cartoon as the only source of information to make important decisions about your intellectual property.

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