Reviewed by Aug 27, 2020| Updated on
What is a trademark?
A trademark is a recognisable insignia, expression, term, or emblem that signifies and legally differentiates a particular product from all other products of its kind. A trademark marks a product solely as belonging to a particular company and acknowledges the brand's ownership of the company.
Similar to a trademark, a service mark defines and separates the source of a service rather than a product. The word "trademark" is often used to relate to both trademarks and service marks. In general, trademarks are considered a form of intellectual property.
Understanding the trademark
A trademark could be a corporate logo, a slogan, a brand, or just a product name. For instance, few would think of a beverage and calling it Coca Cola, or using its logo's famous wave. It is now clear that The Coca-Cola Company (KO) belongs to the brand "Coca Cola," and to its logo.
Nonetheless, trademarking does include some fuzzy definitions, as it forbids any marks that have a "likelihood of conflict" with an existing one. Accordingly, a company cannot use a symbol or brand name if it sounds similar, looks similar, or has a similar meaning to one already on the books—especially if the goods or services are connected.
Why use a trademark?
Individuals and companies have trademarked products and services to shield the product from being used without the original company's permission. Many countries have patent laws designed to protect themselves from infringements of copyright. In the United States, this role is performed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
While most countries have organisations through which businesses can have their products licensed, international copyright law is more complex than in the U.S., as there is no universally recognised patent office, guidelines, or continuity.
Trademarks, Patents, and Copyrights
A trademark preserves the terms and design elements defining a product or service's source, creator, or maker. Unlike a trademark, for a certain period of time, a patent covers an initial invention, and there may be several different types of patents. Like patents, copyrights cover "authorship works," such as fiction, painting, design, music, etc.