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Trademarks versus service marks

On Behalf of | Dec 6, 2023 | Trademarks

Companies need ways to distinguish themselves from other similar companies. This includes the company itself, as well as the goods and services they offer. 

One way to do this is through the use of trademarks and service marks. While these are both used for identification, there are some specific differences between them. 

What is a trademark?

Trademarks predominantly protect symbols, logos, phrases or designs associated with products in the marketplace. They serve as identifiers distinguishing goods produced by one entity from those of others. 

What is a service mark?

On the other hand, service marks function similarly but serve to identify services rather than tangible products. They represent the source of services, such as those offered by consulting firms, hotels or service-oriented businesses. 

What are the differences?

The primary differentiator between trademarks and service marks lies in their application. While trademarks are linked to products, service marks relate to services. The former speaks to the origin of tangible goods, but the latter signifies the origin of intangible services.

How are they registered?

Trademarks and service marks undergo similar registration processes, involving distinct classes and categories based on goods or services. The application must clearly define the mark’s association with either a product or a service to avoid potential issues.

Both trademarks and service marks offer legal protection, preventing unauthorized use by others in a commercial context. They help establish brand identity, build consumer trust and safeguard the goodwill associated with a business.

Business owners must ensure their company’s intellectual property remains protected. Once the trademark or service mark is registered, there are legal options available if another company tries to infringe.