An effective branding strategy includes positioning a product or service in the marketplace so that consumers automatically associate certain features and characteristics of the product with its brand name. The process includes selecting an appropriate mark to distinguish the product or service, acquiring rights in that mark, properly using the mark to preserve and expand the rights acquired, and monitoring the market to prevent others from diluting the mark or trading on the brand’s recognition by acquiring rights and similar marks.

Like patents, trademarks may be obtained through process of application approval. Obtained at the federal level, registration is the owner’s right to prevent others from engaging in activities that exploit or damage the public’s recognition of the company’s identity and reputation anywhere in the United States. However, even without registration, a firm enjoys these rights under common law whenever the firm’s use of the mark has created an association in the public’s mind between the mark and the firm. The rights exist for as long as the public continues its recognition.

As with patents, the scope of trademark protection is defined by the owner and may be vast. Names, phrases, symbols, and even colors may become the exclusive property of a firm when used in association with the product or service.