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Trademark versus service mark protection

On Behalf of | Dec 7, 2023 | blog, intellectual property law

When it comes to protecting your brand, understanding the difference between a trademark and a service mark is important.

Both play an important role in safeguarding your business identity, but they apply to different aspects of commerce.

Trademark basics

So far, 737,018 people have applied for trademarks and 414,043 have registered trademarks in 2023 according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. A trademark is a symbol, word or design that distinguishes your products from those of others. It signals that the goods bearing the mark come from a specific source. These symbols instantly connect with the products they represent.

Service mark basics

A service mark serves a similar purpose, but it applies specifically to services rather than tangible goods. It identifies and differentiates the services offered by one entity from those provided by others. Service marks are common in industries where services are the primary focus, such as telecommunications, hospitality or consulting. An example is the distinctive jingle associated with a telecommunications company or the logo representing a renowned hotel chain.

Application process

Registering a trademark or service mark requires submitting an application to the government agency responsible for intellectual property. The mark needs to be distinctive and unlikely to get confused with existing marks. Diligence in the application process ensures that your brand is uniquely identified and protected.

Benefits of protection

Securing trademark or service mark protection provides several advantages. It grants the owner exclusive rights to use the mark in connection with their goods or services, preventing others from capitalizing on their established brand identity. This exclusivity fosters brand recognition and consumer trust, ultimately contributing to the success and longevity of the business.

Careful consideration and proper registration can pave the way for a strong and distinctive brand presence in the market.