What is a Service Mark (SM)?

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office defines a service mark as:

Any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination, used, or intended to be used, in commerce, to identify and distinguish the services of one provider from services provided by others, and to indicate the source of the services.

Similar to a trademark, but for identifying services rather than goods, a service mark is denoted by a small “SM” symbol near the service marked item.

Examples of a Service Mark

The name “Visa” is a service mark that identifies the Visa credit card services, just as the MGM lion’s roar is a sound-based service mark that identifies any MGM created movies. Many companies have multiple trademarks and service marks to help in branding their business.

Take for example a plumbing company. They may have a logo of a leaking faucet and wrench to identify their company. This logo would be a service mark because it identifies their plumbing services. Their name could also be service marked.

If the plumbing company developed their own brand of pipe fittings and stamped them with their logo, that logo would then need to be trademarked to identify the goods of the company, rather than the services.

Registering a Service Mark

You can register your service mark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by filing an application, paying the necessary fees, and awaiting approval. You must be careful that your mark is considered a service mark and not a trademark, or you risk wasting time and money on an invalid application.

Once a service mark is federally registered a business may choose to use the standard registration symbol (capital R surrounded by a circle) rather than the superscript SM traditionally used for service marks. Use of the SM symbol is generally only seen when a service mark is pending registration.

California trademark attorneys are experienced in dealing with all types of marks and can help you determine which type of filing is right for your business. They can also help you with the process and guide you through each step, saving you time and hassle.

Help from California Trademark Attorneys

A service mark can be a very important part in the branding of your business, as it helps consumers identify with your services. If your business is seeking to establish legal ownership of a service mark, you should consult with California trademark attorneys who have the experience necessary to help.

The California trademark attorneys at the ADLI Law Group P.C. have formed lasting relationships with businesses across Los Angeles County and around the globe. Contact ustoday for experienced help with protecting your service marks – 213-223-2365.