There is an important distinction between a registered trademark and a registered trademark that is considered to be “famous”. Throughout the years, certain court rulings have determined that famous marks deserve a greater number of protection rights than those granted to lesser known marks. There are no definitive characteristics that define fame for a mark; however, the loose requirements do at least include that the mark be obviously distinct and that it achieves extensive public recognition and renown. There are also indirect guidelines used to measure any marks' fame, such as: length of time the mark has been in use, the volume of sales for products sold under the mark, and the total advertising expenditures used to promote the mark. At the point where a mark becomes famous, consumers will rely heavily on that mark to identify certain products, and because of that trust, the court deems it necessary to provide more legal protection for that mark.
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Dr. Thomas R. (Terry) Williamson III is a Patent Attorney practicing in Atlanta, Georgia.
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