What Is a Trademark?


Trademarks and Service Marks which are used in interstate or foreign commerce may be registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Trademark rights are used to prevent confusion in the marketplace, but not to prevent others from making similar goods or from selling similar goods or providing similar services under a clearly different Mark.

Trademark is a word, name, symbol or device which is used in trade with goods to indicate the source of the goods and to distinguish them from the goods of others.

Service Mark is the same as a Trademark except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product.

The terms “Trademark” and “Mark” are commonly used to refer to both Trademarks and Service Marks.

NOTE: To file a Trademark or Service Mark application, you must be using the Mark with services or goods in the stream of interstate commerce or have a bona fideexpectation that the Mark will be used in the stream of interstate commerce within the next six (6) months.

Registering a Mark is not legally mandated; however, having a Federal Trademark Registration on the Principal Register provides several advantages:

  • provides a constructive public notice of the registrant’s claim of ownership of the Mark;
  • a legal presumption of the registrant’s ownership of the Mark and the registrant’s exclusive right to use the Mark nationwide on or in connection with the goods and/or services listed in the registration;
  • the ability to bring a legal action concerning the Mark in federal court;
  • the use of the U.S Registration as a basis to obtain registration in foreign countries; and
  • the ability to file the U.S. Registration with the U.S. Customs Service to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods.