A trademark is a mark used in commerce as a badge of origin for a product. An example of a trademark is Apple for mobile phones or Coca-Cola for soft drinks. A service mark is a mark used in commerce as a badge of origin for services. Motel 6 is an example of a service mark used in connection with hotel services. A trademark or service mark can include any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination used or intended to be used to identify and distinguish the goods or services of one provider from those of others, and to indicate the source of the goods or services.
Trademarks and service marks differ substantively from patents and copyrights. A copyright is a right afforded to a creative work that is placed into a tangible medium (e.g., a book or a computer program). A utility patent is an intellectual property right granted to a party that has invented a new and useful method, product, composition, or machine. A design patent is an intellectual property right granted to a party that has invented new ornamental design.. But, in some cases, a trademark can also be subject to other protection under copyright law or be protected by a design patent. For instance, a logo that is used as a badge of origin for a product can also be an image that may be subject to copyright protection. An ornamental product package may be the subject of both a design patent and a trademark.
Federal Trademark Registrations Can Help A Company Differentiate Itself
Federal trademark registrations can help ensure recognition of trademark rights for companies, even smaller entities—as smaller companies or companies that may have a mostly regional presence (e.g., have sales in only a few states). For example, search engines often will refuse to address a use of a business’s trademark that the business believes is an infringement of their trademark unless the business has a registration for that trademark. Google’s current practice in addressing concerns a party may have with another entity attempting to use its mark or marks in ad word searching is to receive complaints, investigate those complaints, and take action to resolve those complaints when warranted. (https://support.google.com/adwordspolicy/answer/2562124?hl=en). Without a federal registration, it can be difficult to show ownership of the trademark rights being asserted in such a complaint. In most cases, this is probably because there is a lack of certainty as to what rights a party may have in the at-issue mark that is the subject of its complaint. A federal registration helps resolve this issue so that filed complaints have a much greater chance of being acted on.