Everyone is familiar with Trademarks. We are literally surrounded by them. Trademarks are the words, logos, packaging and other devices that we use to differentiate goods and services from each other and are how we can differentiate our favorite coffee in the morning from the terrible stuff that tastes like warm dirty water. They are how we distinguish the shoes that gave us blisters from the ones that made us run faster (or at least made us think we did). Without even realizing it, we often encounter and make decisions based on trademarks multiple times each day.
Despite the commonality of trademarks, or perhaps because of it, there are a number of misconceptions about what trademarks are, how they are protected and what rights a trademark conveys. This may be okay if you are just trying to buy that first cup of coffee in the morning, but if you are the business trying to sell the coffee, trademarks can be critical. Four common misconceptions I encounter when talking about trademarks with business owners are: