What are the basics of trademarks?

What is a trademark? Here are some basics. 

What is a trademark, and how does it differ from a service mark?

Trademarks and service marks are both referred to as “marks,” however, they can represent different things. A trademark is a word or symbol (or combination of both) under which a product is advertised and sold. An example of a trademark would be Tootsie Roll® for candy. A service mark distinguishes the services of a business from those of another. For example, Staples® is a service mark for a company providing retail services for office products.

Are there other kinds of marks?

Yes. When a mark is used to certify products or services of others, such as “Good Housekeeping,” it is a certification mark. When used by an association’s members, such as “True Value” for hardware store members, it is a collective mark.

What is a trade name and how does it differ from a trademark?

A trade name is a name under which a company does business. The Burton Corporation and Microsoft Corporation are examples of trade names. While the same word may function as a trade name and trademark, the two are legally distinct and serve different legal functions. Therefore, a word may be cleared as a trade name in a particular state or country, but not be available as a trademark.

Learn more about our approach to trademark law and copyright infringement.