What is a trademark?

The word “trademark” is often employed to relate to any of the four types of marks that can be filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). It is similar internationally. These four kinds of marks are service marks, trademarks, collective marks, and certification marks.

The two primaries (most popular) examples of marks filed with the USPTO are service marks and trademarks. The term trademark means any symbol, word, device, or device, or any blend thereof used by a person to distinguish and identify their goods, including a unique product, from those manufactured or sold by others. A trademark is used in association with a product. For instance, the “Mcdonalds” logo of two arches in an M found on Mcdonalds happy meal is used to associate Mcdonald’s products. The mark “Adidas” is used in association with athletic shoes.

Service Mark

The word “service mark” means any name, symbol, device, or word, or any combination thereof used by a person, to identify and distinguish one person’s services, including a single service, from the services of others. A service mark, therefore, is used in connection with services. For instance, the actual name “Mcdonalds” is used in association with retail store services in the field of burgers, french fries, etc.

The other types of marks that can be registered with the USPTO are collective marks and certification marks.

Certification Mark

The word “certification mark” means any name, symbol, device, or word, or any combination thereof used by a person other than its owner and certifies that the services or goods concerning which it is used possess specifically defined features. Such features may include mode of manufacture, material, accuracy, quality, or other characteristics of such person’s services or goods. Unlike service marks and trademarks, an owner of a certification mark must not lead on a business or trade involving the supply of services or goods of the kind certified. The owner of the mark commissions others to use the certification mark. For instance, using a mark registered by a labor union may certify that union members performed the work or labor on the services or goods. Another example of a certification mark is the “Energy Star” logo, which is placed on products that are deemed energy-efficient. This logo lets consumers know that the purchasing product has been certified to be energy-efficient by the United States EPA (Environmental Protection Agency.)

Collective Mark

The term “collective mark” means a service mark or trademark used by the members of an association, a cooperative, or other collective organization or group, and is often used by the members of the organization to distinguish themselves with a level of accuracy or quality, geographic origin, or other features set by the organization. One instance would be the mark “CPA,” used to symbolize members of the Society of Certified Public Accounts.

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