By Corporate Relations and Business Strategy Staff
The name of your practice, as well as the logo and slogan you use in your practice brochure and other marketing materials, are an important part of your professional image. This article provides a basic overview of trademarks and how you can establish and protect your legal right to use the tools that identify your services in the marketplace.
What Is a Trademark?
A trademark is any word, phrase, symbol or design that you use to identify your products or services and differentiate them from products and services offered by others. Although technically, “trademarks” are used for products and “service marks” are used for services, the term “trademark” is commonly used in both cases. Owning a trademark can give you the legal right under federal and state law to prevent others from using your trademark to promote their services.
As a psychologist in independent practice or who owns a group practice, consulting firm or community-based agency, you may wonder why you would ever need to think about trademarks. Consider, however, the repercussions (and expense) of having to change your signs, letterhead, advertisements and directory listings because you inadvertently used a competitor’s slogan and were accused of trademark infringement. Similarly, think about what would happen if a new practitioner moved into your neighborhood, started using the name of your practice and was getting referrals based on the good name and reputation you spent years building.