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Trademark > How Do I Qualify for and Obtain Trademark Protection? - Pg. 149

A Primer on Intellectual Property If maintained correctly, trademarks do not expire. What a Trademark Does and Does Not Protect 149 Trademarks protect the reputation of a brand by preventing other parties from using the trademark or one confusingly similar to it. While a mark may acquire some rights merely through use, trade- marks must be registered with the USPTO to enjoy full legal rights. Unlike the Copyright Register, which functions more as a cataloguing entity keeping track of registered works, the USPTO rigor- ously examines every application to decide if it qualifies as a legitimate trademark and will usually fire back questions, required changes to the application, or a flat-out denial of registration. Note NOTE Denials are most commonly due to theproposed mark being either too similarto an existing trademark (example: a"GameBox" console would probably betoo similar to both "Xbox" and"GameCube") or too descriptive (example:"Hardwood" for a flooring company) and thus not trademarkable, both ofwhich are discussed in this section. The strength of a trademark--in other words, how likely a court is to find that similar marks infringe on the original--depends on how distinctive the association between the mark and the described product is. The idea is that the more distinctive the trademark, the clearer it is to a court that any association between the product and the mark is the product of the company's efforts. An inherently distinctive mark is one with no meaning within its product category. The three kinds of inherently distinctive marks are · Arbitrary marks. These are real words that have nothing to do with the product, like Snickers candy bars.