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trademark basics


The term “trademark” is often used to refer to any of the four types of marks that can be registered with the USPTO.

The two primary types of marks that can be registered with the USPTO are:

Trademarks – used by their owners to identify goods, that is, physical commodities, which may be natural, manufactured, or produced, and which are sold or otherwise transported or distributed via interstate commerce.

Service marks – used by their owners to identify services, that is, intangible activities, which are performed by one person for the benefit of a person or persons other than himself, either for pay or otherwise.

There are other types of marks that can be registered in the USPTO, but they occur infrequently and have some different requirements for registration than the more commonly applied for trademarks and service marks. They are:

PLEASE NOTE: Since the benefits conferred by registration are essentially the same for all types of marks, the term “trademark” is often used in general information that applies to service marks, certification marks, and collective marks as well as to true trademarks (marks used on goods) as defined above.

Why should I obtain a trademark?

The following are benefits of having a federally registered trademark:

  • Constructive notice nationwide of the trademark owner’s claim
  • Evidence of ownership of the trademark
  • Jurisdiction of federal courts may be invoked
  • Registration can be used as a basis for obtaining registration in foreign countries
  • Registration may be filed with U.S. Customs Service to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods