What Is A Trademark?Trademarks protect words, names, symbols, sounds, or colors that distinguish goods and services. Trademarks, unlike patents, can be renewed forever as long as they are being used in business. The roar of the MGM lion, the pink of the insulation made by Owens-Corning (who uses the Pink Panther in advertising by permission from its owner!), and the shape of a Coca-Cola bottle are familiar trademarks. These are brand names and identities and are important in marketing a product or service.
Brand Name Vs Generic NameNaming an invention involves developing at least two names. One name is the generic name. The other name is the brand name or trademark name.
For example, Pepsi ® and Coke ® are brand names or trademark names; cola or soda are the generic or product names. Big Mac ® and Whopper ® are brand names or trademark names; hamburger is the generic or product name. Nike ® and Reebok ® are brand names or trademark names; sneaker or athletic shoe are generic or product names.
Primary TrademarksThe term "trademark" is often used to refer to any type of mark that can be registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office or USPTO. The two primary types of marks that can be registered with the USPTO are:
- Trademarks that are 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 that are 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.
Other Types of MarksThere are other types of marks that can be registered, however, they occur infrequently and have some different requirements for registration than the more commonly applied for trademarks and service marks.
Since the benefits of 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, the marks used on goods.