Trademark FAQ

Find answers to common trademark questions.

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  • Trademark FAQs

    What is a Trademark?

    A trademark includes any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination thereof, used or intended to be used in commerce to distinguish the goods of one manufacturer or seller from goods manufactured or sold by others, and to identify the manufacturer or seller as the source of the goods. A trademark is basically a brand name.

    What is a Service mark?

    A service mark is similar to a trademark in that it may include any word, name, symbol, device or combination thereof used or intended to be used in commerce to identify and distinguish the services of one provider from services provided by others, and to identify the provider as the source of the services.

    Why should I register a Trademark/Service mark with the USPTO?

    Federal Trademark Registration provides several advantages such as (a) constructive notice to the public throughout the United States of the registrant’s ownership of the mark; (b) a legal presumption of ownership; and (c) exclusive rights to use the trademark/service mark in association with the goods/services identified in the registration.

    What key benefits does a registration provide?

    Federal Trademark Registration provides the following advantages:

    ·Nationwide constructive notice of Trademark/Service mark ownership;
    ·Evidence of Trademark/Service mark ownership;
    ·Federal Court jurisdiction during litigation;
    ·Registration in the United States can be used as a basis for obtaining registration in foreign countries; and
    ·The registration may be filed with U.S. Customs Service to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods.

    What are the differences between the "®" and the "™"?

    The “®” symbol is only usable once the mark actually registers with the USPTO. A pending application is not enough to start using the “®” symbol. The “TM” and similarly the “SM” marks (designating trademark and service mark, respectively) are not federally regulated in the United States. But, local, state or foreign laws may govern the use of these designations. These marks are generally used to indicate rights in a mark before a federal registration issues. Only after the federal registration issues can the “®” symbol be used in association with the goods/services identified in the federal registration.

    What is "use in commerce"?

    The phrase “interstate commerce” refers either to sending goods identified with the trademark across state lines or offering services to those in another state or rendering services that affect interstate commerce (e.g. hotels, restaurants, gas stations, etc.).

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