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  • Michael W. Schroeder

Fundamental Facts About The US Trademark

What Is The Difference Between A Trademark And A Service Mark?

A trademark is referred to as a word, symbol, design, phrase, or a combination of one or more of these elements that distinguish and identify the source of goods between distinct parties. A service mark is similar to a trademark except that it distinguishes and identifies the source of service instead of goods. In this article, the terms “mark” and “trademark” imply both service marks and trademarks.



Do Trademarks, Patents & Copyrights Protect Similar Things?

No. Trademarks, patents, and copyrights protect distinct kinds of intellectual property. Copyright typically protects an original literary or artistic work. A trademark protects brand logos and names used on services and goods. Patents protect inventions. For instance, if you invent a novel vacuum cleaner, you will be required to apply for a patent in order to protect your invention. If you decide to market the product through a TV commercial, you will have to register a copyright. Finally, if you come up with a unique brand name for the vacuum cleaner, you would apply for the registration of a trademark.


If you seek copyright information, visit copyright.gov. For patent information, visit uspto.gov/patents. If you need assistance in understanding more about intellectual property, you can use various tools online for intellectual property awareness assessment.



How Do Business Name Registrations, Trademarks & Domain Names Differ?

A domain name refers to a web address linking to the IP address of a specific website. For instance, the domain name in the website address “http://www.uspto.gov” is “uspto.gov. The domain name is registered with a domain name registrar and not via the USPTO. A trademark and a domain name are not the same. A trademark identifies services or goods as belonging to a specific source. On the other hand, using a domain name as a web address’s part does not qualify as a trademark use that indicates a specific source. That said, any other prominent use of a domain name might qualify as trademark use. It is noteworthy that you will not get any trademark rights by registering a domain name with a registrar. For instance, if you register a particular domain name with a registrar, you might need to surrender it at a later stage if it infringes the trademark rights of some other individual/entity.


In the same vein, using a business name does not make it a trademark use, although using a business name for other reasons such as the source of services or goods may qualify as both a trademark and a business name. Many local jurisdictions and states register business names as an assumed name or to obtain a certificate in order to carry out business activities. For instance, if you are doing business in a particular state, you might file documents to create a business entity. This includes a limited liability company or a corporation. This will require you to choose a suitable name for your company, such as XYZ Inc. Moreover, if no other entity has applied for the same name as yours in that state and provided you comply with all the stipulated requirements, you will likely be issued a certificate by the state, authorizing you to carry out your business activities under that name. This state authorization, however, does not provide you with trademark rights.


Federal Registration When Choosing A Mark

The very first in the registration/application process is selecting a mark once you identify your need for trademark protection. You must do it with care. Trademark application refusals by USPTO officials are common if you fail to comply with the required set of guidelines. It is also vital to remember that not all marks are legally protectable. This means that some marks might not serve as a legal basis when it comes to a legal claim by an owner wanting to stop other individuals/entities from using a similar mark for their goods/services. Individuals and businesses that are new to the application/registration process, should seek help from established law firms that have experts in the field.


Furthermore, before filing a service mark/trademark application, you must consider the following:


If the mark that you want to register is actually registrable

The level of difficulty you will have to face to protect this mark based on its strength


In this regard, it is noteworthy that the USPTO is only responsible for the registration of marks. As the mark owner, you will be responsible for the enforcement of your mark.


Likelihood Of Confusing Your Mark With Others

The USPTO examines all applications for their compliance with the established rules and federal law. One of the most common reasons for the refusal of applications is the “likelihood of confusion” between the applicant’s mark and a mark that has already been registered before. According to the USPTO, a likelihood of confusion arises when:


Both marks are similar

The services and/or goods of both the parties are such that consumers could mistakenly believe that they come from one source


Contact Trademark.Legal For Assistance

If you are looking for an excellent trademark opposition lawyer, or should you seek help with trademark infringement litigation, Trademark.Legal is the place to be. We have expert attorneys in our team who understand the scope of trademark protection, registration and maintenance. We understand application refusals, whether it is due to the likelihood of confusion or merely descriptive refusals. Our dedicated team helps individuals and businesses protect, develop, and grow their intellectual property rights at cost-effective prices. We offer all kinds of trademark prosecution services, both domestically and across the globe.


Call our attorneys at 323-553-1541 or write to us at info@trademark.legal to receive a free consultation. One of our qualified attorneys will offer you an honest assessment so that you understand your case well from the beginning.

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