A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.

If a person or business performs services instead of manufacturing goods or products, a service mark is filed instead of a trademark. A service mark is the same as a trademark, except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product.

A trademark lets a manufacturer or producer of goods protect the logo, design, etc., associated with its goods.

For example, “Coca-Cola” is a federally registered trademark of the Coca Cola Company.

As such, only the Coca Cola Company has the rights to use the term “Coca-Cola.” It is important to remember a trademark or service mark can only be obtained for unique, distinctive, or descriptive goods or services associated with you or your company. Generic terms cannot be protected by trademarks or service marks.

Trademark applications are filed with the US Patent Trademark Office. Once the application has been approved for meeting the minimum filing requirements, it is forwarded to an examining attorney for review. This process may take a number of months. A complete examination will be conducted which includes a search for conflicting marks, and an examination of the written application, the drawing, and any specimen.

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