What is the difference between a trademark and a service mark?

On Behalf of | Dec 3, 2022 | Intellectual Property

Trademarks and service marks are both marks that can include symbols, devices, words or names to identify a person’s brand.

If you use a mark in commerce, in direct connection to goods or services, you can acquire common law rights to it. However, registering your trademark or service mark will provide you with exclusive rights to the mark and protects you against infringement.

What is a trademark?

Trademarks are for businesses that sell various products. Your trademark could include a logo, name, color scheme or any other combination representing your business. When people think of your brand, what imagery do they think about?

Some examples of trademarks of popular corporations include the Apple logo, the shape of a Coca-Cola bottle and the Windows startup sound. When someone thinks of a trademark symbol, they should automatically think of the brand.

What is a service mark?

Service marks are for businesses that sell services rather than products. For instance, if you own a landscaping company or plumbing service, your logo and name are service marks. A service mark may include names, logos, devices or a combination.

It is possible to register a service mark and a trademark simultaneously. For instance, if you own a restaurant, you would register the restaurant name as a service. However, you could register your menu items as trademarks.

You have every right to any goods or services you mark as a business. Another company cannot copy your idea or brand their items close to yours to create confusion in the marketplace.