What is a trademark and how does it differ from patents and copyrights?

Daler Radjabov, Esq.
Daler Radjabov, Esq.

The word ‘trademark’ is often used in a wrong way. To help educate the community, we decided to explain what is, and what is not, a trademark.

A trademark is a word, phrase, logo, design and other symbols that can be used to distinguish goods or services of one enterprise from those of another.

A trademark is not always only textual—it can be a melody, an image or a smell.

Below you can learn to distinguish trademarks from patents and copyrights.

What is a Trademark

What is it: Trademark is a word, phrase, design, or a combination that identifies your goods or services, makes them stand out from others' goods or services, and lets everyone know who made them.

Trademark is also known as a brand, although not yet registered.

A brand is the perception of your company.

Customers identify different brands by reputation, image, and emotion.

For example, a company can create a brand to make you feel more confident, secure, or calm.

Why it matters: For most companies, a trademark is their most valuable piece of intellectual property.

A trademark not only protects your business but also your consumers. An established trademark makes consumers feel more confident about the quality of products bearing that brand.

How the law defines it: 15 U.S. Code § 1127 says the term “trademark” includes any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof—

  1. used by a person, or
  2. which a person has a bona fide intention to use in commerce and applies to register on the principal register established by this chapter,

to identify and distinguish his or her goods, including a unique product, from those manufactured or sold by others and to indicate the source of the goods, even if that source is unknown.

What are the top 10 brands in the world:

  • Apple
  • Google
  • Microsoft
  • Amazon
  • Facebook
  • Coca-Cola
  • Disney
  • Samsung
  • Louis Vuitton
  • McDonald's

Worth noting:

The bottom line:

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What is a Patent

What is it:

Why it matters:

What they are saying

Example

Worth noting:

The bottom line:

Caveats:

What is it:

Why it matters:

What they are saying

Example

Worth noting:

The bottom line:

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Dive deeper on the basics of trademarks here.

Daler Radjabov, Esq.

👋 I'm a U.S.-licensed Trademark Lawyer who helps entrepreneurs register their trademarks with the USPTO. My law firm owns and publishes this educational site.