What is a trademark?
A trademark is any word, slogan, symbol, design, or combination of these elements which identifies and distinguishes the goods or services of one party from others.
The university has delegated the responsibility for maintaining, managing, licensing and protecting the university trademarks to the Director of University Trademarks and Licensing under the direction of the Office of University Marketing and Communications.
How is a trademark protected?
In the United States, parties are not required to register their marks to obtain protectable rights. Federal and state registration provides legal advantages to the owner when pursuing infringers. One advantage is that it provides notice to the public, which prevents anyone from claiming that they did not know the mark existed. Federal law preempts state law so any state registration performed in addition to federal is for purposes of notice only. A trademark can be federally registered if it is used in interstate commerce. The trademark is registered in the class of goods or services for which it is used. It is possible to have multiple owners for similar trademarks as long as: 1) the goods and services are not related, 2) there is no consumer confusion as to the source of the goods and services, and 3) there is no dilution of a strong mark.
Trademark infringement is the unauthorized use of a trademark (or a substantially similar mark) on or in connection with goods and/or services in a manner that is likely to cause confusion about the source of the goods and/or services. The success of a lawsuit to stop the infringement is based on whether consumer confusion is likely to result.