Trademarks and Service Marks

What is a Trademark?
There are two basic types of marks: trademarks and service marks. Trademarks identify the source of goods, while service marks identify the source of services. The rights in a mark are a business asset that can be sold or licensed to others. You can also use the mark to maintain yourself as the exclusive source of a product or service.

Words, symbols, letters, slogans, designs, features of packaging, color combinations, animations and even sounds may be used as trademarks or service marks. Some marks may qualify as a collective mark because they identify membership in an organization or, if they identify goods or services that meet certain quality control standards, as a certification mark.

Trademark Protection in the U.S.
In the U.S., trademark rights exist on three levels: by federal registration, by state registration, and at common law. As commerce between the various states evolved, the federal system of registration emerged to provide protection for marks in interstate commerce. Federal protection may be available for the name of your product and/or service, a logo or any other mark that identifies you as the source of a product or service. Federal registration rights can be renewed and can last forever.

Common law and state registration rights will be enhanced by the benefits associated with federal registration. State registration systems exist throughout the country to allow the owners of common law marks to register them if they are used within a particular state. Common law marks are unregistered marks that are protected because they have been adopted and used, and the public recognizes the products or services identified by the mark as coming from a particular source.

In this current global economy, business owners should consider federal registration rights as well as trademark rights throughout the world. Click here for more information about international trademark protectionTo request a trademark search for a U.S. or International word or design mark (logo) please submit your request via our secure On-line Trademark Search Request Form or our Printable Trademark Search Request Form.