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Copyright & Patents/Trademark - A brand vs. a slogan

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Question
Hi:

Thank you for taking the time to answer my question.

Let's say I own Cleaning.com.  I want to trademark it.  We will be selling cleaning services.

However, another company has a sligan:  "Cleaning; every day, all day."  They have trademarked this slogan.

Would we be in confluct with their trademark in your opinion?

Thank you for your time!

Best,
Dean

Answer
Dean,

The purpose of a trademark/service mark is to identify the source of the goods or services.  

When you are traveling in the middle of nowhere with your family, and all of a sudden you see a "McDonald's" sign with the golden arches, you know that if you eat there that the restaurant is clean, and that the food is edible (but not terrific).

Whenever you try to capture common, descriptive words that anyone in your industry would use to describe their services, their are potential problems at both ends.

Someone may sue you for infringing their name/mark and you will have a difficult time protecting your name/mark.  There are currently over 1500 federal trademarks applications/registrations that use the word "cleaning" in the mark.  There are also thousands of state and common law rights to similar names.

Also, the word "cleaning" is generic, and there are so many variations of the word (clean, cleaner, cleanser, etc), that your attorneys would be working full-time enforcing your mark.

You can't stop competitors from using words found in the dictionary to describe their services.
Also, you cannot stop people from using a mark that they were using before you came along.

It may be worth your time to develop value in a mark or a family of marks that is not already being used.  This will require you to engage legal counsel and research the potential marks.

You don't want to get into a situation where you have been using a mark for several years, have significant revenues in your business, and then get notice from another attorney that you need to change your name because someone else has senior rights to the name/mark.

Dean, I hope that this helps and good luck!

Best regards,

 --Gerald R. Black
   Attorney and Counselor
   grblack@usipattorney.net
   248.644.1014

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Gerald R. Black

Expertise

Intellectual Property Patents Global Patent Rights PCT Technology Transfer Copyrights Trademarks

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Registered to practice before the U.S. Patent Office Admitted to Practice Law in Michigan, California, and Ohio

Education/Credentials
Capital University Law School - JD University of Cincinnati - BSME

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