What is a Trademark?

What is a trademark? A trademark is a word, symbol, or combination of words and symbols that is used to identify the source of the goods or services. A consumer of a product need not know the name of the source, as long as he or she knows that the trademark indicates that all products come from a single source. This gives a consumer an assurance of quality when making future purchasing decisions. For example, a consumer who sees the trademark Pepsi® on a can of soda in Oregon knows that it is of the same quality as a can of Pepsi® purchased in Rhode Island. Thus, a trademark is intrinsically bound up with the “good will,” or reputation, that is developed by the owner of the mark.

We believe that the effective use of trademarks is a critical component of any business plan. Trademarks embody the goodwill and reputation that a company builds up over time, and play a powerful role in influencing consumer decisions in the marketplace. By helping our clients develop strategies for effective trademark usage and protection, we assist them in achieving and maintaining market prominence in a variety of industries.

Is there a difference between a trademark and a service mark? Yes and no. Technically, trademarks are used in connection with goods (such as a candy bar or pair of shoes), and service marks are used in connection with services (such as a car wash). There is no difference between the legal protections afforded to trademarks and service marks, however, and both trademarks and service marks are commonly referred to as “trademarks” or, more simply, as “marks.”

Please contact a member of our Trademark Practice Group if you would like to discuss any of these issues further.