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Are service marks the same as trademarks?

On Behalf of | Dec 6, 2022 | intellectual property law

When marketing your product or service, you need a distinctive image and style that allows your customers to recognize you instantly.

Trademarks and service marks are slightly different, but they serve the same purpose, which is to distinguish your goods and services from those of other companies.

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

Trademarks and service marks are similar, but trademarks are for products and service marks are for services.

A trademark is a name, logo or phrase that identifies a physical product your company sells, while a service mark is a name or phrase that identifies a service your company provides. A service mark may accompany a logo, but the logo itself is always a trademark.

Many businesses use both, and in some cases, the same mark serves as a trademark and a service mark. For example, if you own a coffee shop, the name of your business is a service mark. However, if your shop offers coffee for retail sale under the same name, the name serves as a trademark, because it identifies a physical product.

Does a service mark have the same protections as a trademark?

Whether you are applying to register a trademark or a service mark, the application process is the same. When you apply, you must identify and classify the products or services that you want to market under your mark.

Registering a trademark or service mark protects your right to use that name, slogan or logo to refer to the products or services that you identified in your application. Your registration does not prevent other companies from using a similar mark to refer to a different type of product or service.

Understanding the purpose of trademarks and service marks is essential to growing your brand.