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What is a trademark?


A trademark is a device used by a merchant to identify its goods or services and to distinguish them from those of others.  It is a convenient means for facilitating the protection of one’s good will in trade by placing a distinguishing mark or symbol (a commercial signature) upon the merchandise or the package in which it is sold.

What kinds of trademarks are available for use?

There are various types of trademarks that can be registered with the Patent and Trademark Office.  They are generally broken up into four distinct categories.

1.  Trademarks:  Any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof used by a person, or which a person has a bona fide intention to use in commerce.  The mark must identify and distinguish the goods from those manufactured or sold by others and must indicate the source of the goods, even if that source is unknown.  An example would be Nike, Coca-Cola, Apple, or Ford.

2.  Service Mark:  Any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof used by a person, or which a person has a bona fide intention to use in commerce.  The mark must identify and distinguish the services of one person from the services of others and must indicate the source of the services, even if that source is unknown.  An example would be Visa or the MGM lion’s roar.

3.  Certification Mark:  Any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof used by a person other than its owner, or which its owner has a bona fide intention to permit a person other than the owner to use in commerce to certify regional or other origin, material, mode of manufacture, quality, accuracy, or other characteristics of such person’s goods or services.  Alternately, a certification mark can identify that the work or labor on the goods or services was performed by members of a union or other organization.  An example of this would be the ADA mark on toothpaste.

4.  Collective Mark:  Any trademark or service mark used by the members of a cooperative, an association, or other collective group or organization, or which such cooperative, association, or other collective group or organization has a bona fide intention to use in commerce.  These generally include marks indicating membership in a union, an association, or other organization.  An example would be FTD for florists or a union logo.

 

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