Years ago, my father obtained two trademark registrations for two different companies that first used the marks in the 1800’s. I wonder if when the marks were selected, they knew that the marks would last, but also that they would grow in iconic value.

To ensure that your mark will last and grow in value, there are a number of things you can, and should do that can lead to success. The first step is to select a mark that has strong trademark significance. You want your mark to stand out and make it easy for consumers to not only find your products, but also to identify with your brand.

Too often marks are selected that try to help the consumer understand what you do or sell. For example, there isn’t much mystery when you see a sign for “Bob’s Heating & Plumbing” or the “Des Moines Brewing Company.” While these marks might help a consumer better understand your business, they do little to help you stand out from the crowd and you end up just blending in as one of the many similar marks.

Instead, you want to pick a word and/or a logo that is unique from all the others. In the trademark world they use terms like arbitrary, fanciful, or suggestive. Another way of thinking of your mark selection is to pick words that have no meaning (arbitrary – GOOGLE), or use a known word that has no connection to your product (fanciful – APPLE for a computer). You also can select a word or phrase that suggests but does not describe the qualities or attributes of a good or service (PIG WINGS for pork shanks).

The second step is to make sure the mark you’ve selected is not confusingly similar to another’s. The last thing you want is for a consumer to buy your competitor’s crappy product and think it is yours. While the test for likelihood of confusion is complex, generally, if the mark and the goods/service are similar, you probably want to select a different mark. You can search for registrations at the Trademark office website, www.uspto.gov, or common law marks by doing an internet search. Still, you may want to talk with an experienced trademark attorney to make sure you’re on the right track.

The next thing to do is consider filing for a Federal registration. Of course, you don’t have to wait 100 years before filing.