What Is A Trademark?
A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, design, logo, or a combination of elements that identify and distinguish the source of the goods of one business or individual from those of another business or individual. A service mark is the same as a trademark, except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than the source of the goods.
What is the Difference Between Trademarks, Copyrights, and Patents?
Trademarks, copyrights, and patents protect different types of intellectual property. A trademark protects the rights of individuals or businesses which use distinctive names, designs, logos, slogans or other signifiers to identify and distinguish their products and services.
Copyrights protect original creative expressions produced by authors, composers, artists, designers, programmers, and other creative individuals.
There are three types of patents: utility, design, and plant. Utility patents, the most common type of patent, are granted to the inventor of a new, useful, non-obvious invention.
The Two Goals of Trademark Law
The two goals of trademark law are protecting property in the trademark and protecting consumers from confusion. Trademark law serves to protect consumers from deception and confusion over trademarks as well as to protect the plaintiff’s infringed trademark as property. Both Congress and the Supreme Court in modern times have stressed that trademark has these two goals. For example, in Inwood Laboratories, Inv v Ives Laboratories, Inc. the Supreme Court stated that trademark infringement “inhibits competition” and “subverts both goals of the Lanham Act” by depriving the trademark owner of good will and by depriving consumers of the ability to distinguish among goods of competing manufacturers. In the Supreme Court’s 1992 Taco Cabana decision, Justice Stevens, concurring, observed that in a Report accompanying the Lanham Act in 1946, the Senate said the Act had two goals:
The purpose underlying any trademark statute is twofold. One is to protect the public so it may be confident that, in purchasing a product bearing a particular trade-mark which it favorably knows, it will get the product which it asks for and wants to get. Secondly, where the owner of a trademark has spent energy, time, and money in presenting to the public the product, he is protected in his investment from its misappropriation by pirates and cheats. This is the well-established rule of law protecting both the public and the trade-mark owner.
What Are Trademark Symbols?
A business or individual may claim exclusive rights to its trademark or service mark by employing the use of the “TM” (trademark) or “SM” (service mark) designation to put the public on notice of the claim of ownership of the trademark or service mark, regardless of whether the individual or business has filed an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The federal trademark registration symbol, ®, may only be employed after the USPTO actually registers the trademark or service mark, and not while the federal trademark application is pending.
What Is the Difference Between a Service Trademark and a Regular Trademark?
The difference between a service trademark (or service mark “SM”) and a regular trademark (“TM”) is rather simple. There are 45 international trademark classes in which trademarks are categorized. See listing of all 45 Trademark Classes. Some of the 45 trademark classes cover products and some trademark classes cover services. Therefore, the only difference between a service trademark and a regular trademark is the international class (or trademark class) in which the trademark is registered.