A Capehart Scatchard Blog

The Importance of Trademarks in the Healthcare World

By on October 23, 2015 in Uncategorized with 0 Comments

The names, logos, and slogans of products and services in the healthcare industry are valuable assets, representing the established goodwill of a hospital, pharmaceutical company, health insurer, or even a local family practice.  In South Jersey, such well-known names as Virtua®, Cooper®, and Jefferson®, have secured their names and logos through the federal trademark registration process.

While trademarks frequently have little initial value, upon establishing goodwill for the business and/or creating a popular product or service, the value of a trademark can exponentially increase.  For instance, Forbes estimated the value of the trademark for Google® at over $40 billion dollars, or more than one-quarter of the company’s overall value.  And unlike copyrights or patents, trademarks can last in perpetuity, such as Levi Strauss & Co.®, whose trademark has been registered since 1873.  In light of the potential significant value and perpetual existence of a trademark, businesses should ensure that their brand is carefully groomed and protected through federal trademark registration.

More basically, a trademark is a brand name. A trademark or service mark includes any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination, used or intended to be used to identify and distinguish the goods/services of one seller or provider from those of others, and to indicate the source of the goods/services.  For instance the words Humana® and Microsoft® are both trademarked, as is Apple Computers’ partially bitten apple logo, as are both McDonalds’s golden arches and its slogan “I’m loving’ it.”

Because trademarks serve as an indicator of the mark owner’s goodwill, federal trademark law was established to protect the unsuspecting public from confusing products/services and to prevent against attempts by unscrupulous competitors to deceive the public.

Federal trademark rights may be established by either being the first to use a mark in interstate commerce (a Section 1(a) filing), or a prospective mark may be reserved prior to use by filing an intent-to-use application (a Section 1(b) filing).

Although the law generally provides that the first user of the mark is entitled to legal protection, with or without a federal trademark registration, federal registration provides significant additional value as it allows for the ability to recover profits, damages, and costs against infringers, national notice of ownership of the mark, the presumption of the validity of the mark, access to federal courts, as well as incontestability status for the mark after five years of federal registration.

In light of the significant benefits of federally registering trademarks (names, logos, and slogans), and given the ever-increasingly competitive healthcare industry, stakeholders should look closely at the options to protect their brand and should certainly consider federal trademark protection among those options.

 

Questions regarding this article may be sent to Publications@Capehart.com. 

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