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Clearance & Use of Company Trademark

The manner of the use of a trademark is critical to maintaining its strength.

Clearance

Timing is important. Trademark or domain name clearance should be undertaken as early as possible prior to use of the mark. This means before marketing material is printed (or designed) and before the mark is incorporated into product designs. There are two primary scenarios where clearance can be necessary:

  1. When a product is in development which is intended to be identified by a new mark.
  2. When an existing mark being used in one market segment is moved or expanded into a different market segment.

The basic procedure for clearance includes the following steps:

  • Company personnel seeking to adopt a new trademark or domain name (the “Initiator”) should contact the trademark coordinator, who can provide initial guidance and instructions.
  • Where the Initiator is inexperienced in trademark or domain name generation and selection, he or she should be counseled by company legal on the requirements and goals of trademark generation and selection.
  • Before any mark or domain name is approved for use, the mark or domain name should be cleared by company legal. For further instruction, see the guidlines within this section.
  • If a mark or domain name is cleared for use, and the initiator wishes to proceed with using the trademark or domain name, the trademark coordinator can initiate the process of registering the trademark or domain name and any corresponding domain names in the US and foreign jurisdictions of interest. In some cases, it may be advisable to reserve candidate domain names prior to the completion of the trademark clearance process. Often times, a domain that is identical to the trademark will not be available. It is important to consider other domain options, such as a domain that includes a descriptive term as a suffix.
  • Before final approval for use, the trademark coordinator should consider completing a Trademark Clearance Checklist and/or Domain Name Clearance Checklist to assure all necessary steps have been performed, including filing for registration of the mark.

Use

Your company’s brands, marks, names, and logos are important and valuable assets. Improper use of such trademarks may devalue or otherwise harm the asset. Additionally, improper use of competitor or other third party trademarks can subject the company to liability. When creating material to be published or shared outside of the company, it is important to ensure proper use of both company and third party marks. The trademark manager should be responsible for assuring proper use of all company trademarks and should take into consideration the guidelines within this section