When establishing a new business in Kentucky, it's important to protect your unique ideas and products, also known as intellectual property. Business law in Kentucky offers three different types of protection for the different types of intellectual property. It is important to understand the differences of each kind, and how to obtain protection for them.
The first type of intellectual property protection is a trademark. A trademark is any word, phrase, or symbol, or some combination of those things that marks the goods or your company to distinguish it from another. Similar to a trademark, a service mark is the same sort of marking that is used to signify the source of a service rather than a good.
There is also protection available new inventions or improvements upon existing inventions. This is known as a patent. Patents are not covered under business law in Kentucky - they are a federal matter, and must be obtained through the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Finally, copyrights are for the protection of written or artistic works. Similar to patents, these are not covered under business law in Kentucky - contact the federal government to obtain a copyright.
Trademarks and service marks are the only type of intellectual property protection covered by Kentucky law. Trademarks and service marks cannot be reserved according to business law in Kentucky. The only way to register a trademark in the state is to already be using the trademark for any period of time. Using these marks in general commerce grants a business common-law right to the trademark.
Registration of a trademark or service mark provides two primary benefits. The first is to provide a general notice throughout Kentucky that your business is claiming ownership of the trademark. This protects the business registering the trademark as well as prevents new businesses from trying to adopt a trademark that another company is using.
Should a situation arise such that a business is forced to resort to judicial measures to secure the exclusive use of a trademark or service mark, registration can grant that business an advantage in the proceedings. In such situations, it is recommended that the business retain legal counsel with expertise in business law in Kentucky to advise them on the best way to proceed. Note that registration of a trademark in Kentucky doesn't protect a trademark in other states.