“I invented a new word. How do I trademark it?”
This is a question I was asked by a potential client this week. My response was, “What is the product or service?”
There was a long pause.
A word is not a trademark — unless it is used to identify a product or service for a business in commerce and distinguishes the products/services from others.
Historically, a tradesmen who crafted a knife, tools, or guns would place his mark (i.e., symbol, initials, name) on the product. When a consumer looked at the product, they knew who created the product based on the mark embedded in the product.
If you develop a product line or services that are identified by the word mark, then you could file an intent-to-use trademark application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Once you start selling the product or providing the services in commerce, you might be able to obtain a trademark registration from the USPTO.
The potential client then asks, “What about copyright?”
You cannot obtain a copyright registration for one word.
Copyright does not protect names, titles, slogans, or short phrases.
A copyright only exists for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. A copyright protects literary, musical, artistic, and dramatic works. A literary work would include books, poems, magazine articles, blog articles, and scripts for plays.
So if you have invented a word, you cannot claim it as your own word that no one else can use. You will need to develop a business selling products or services using the word if you want to claim it as your own.
If you need help with trademark or copyright issues, please call the IP department at Marks Gray, and we will gladly assist you.