What is the difference between a trademark and a service mark?

Your company builds its brand from identifiable items: logos, sounds, words, color schemes, and/or devices. When you have established such an item as unique to the promotion or identification of your brand, you will want to secure it from use by others. When you register for sole use of a branded item, you are registering for either a trademark or a service mark.

Knowing the difference between whether to register a trademark or a service mark is often difficult depending on your use of the mark. California trademark attorneys are experienced in identifying the best course of action to take when registering your mark and can help you with this process.

What is a Trademark?

A trademark is identified as a word, name, device, logo, sound, color scheme, or any combination thereof that is used to identify your business’ products from another business. Trademarks are used mostly by businesses that have a variety of products that need to be identified as being made by that company. Some of the more famous examples of trademarks are:

  • the McDonalds golden arches;
  • the Microsoft Windows startup sound;
  • the brown color in the UPS logo; and
  • the shape of the glass Coca-Cola bottle.

When most people see/hear these items, they immediately think of the brand they came from.

What is a Service Mark?

A service mark also identifies the name, logo, device or combination thereof that identifies the services of a business. The service mark also names the origin of the service. NBC’s three-tone chime would be registered as a service mark because it represents NBC’s television service. Likewise the name of a plumbing company would be a service mark, because it represents the plumbing service.

Trademark vs. Service Mark

The bottom line is that a trademark represents a product produced by a business while a service mark represents a service offered by the business. A single business can register both trademarks and service marks to brand themselves.

For example, a restaurant called “Good Eats” would register “Good Eats” as a service mark since the restaurant provides food as a service. They may also want to register a trademark for their menu item names, such as the “Good Eats Burger”.

Hiring California Trademark Attorneys

Whether you register a trademark or a service mark is dependent on the nature of your business. If you produce a product, you’re more likely to register a trademark, while if you provide a service, you’re more likely to need a service mark registration. The advice of California trademark attorneys can help you make the decision and get your application started.

The California business law 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 trademarks – 213-290-4933.