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Trademarks

A trademark is any word or symbol that is consistently attached to certain goods to identify and distinguish those goods from others in the marketplace. In other words, a trademark is basically like a brand name. Trademarks are a means of identification for a product (or services, in the case of a service mark) of a particular individual or company. This mark can be a symbol, slogan, word, design, or a combination of words and designs. Sometimes, trademarks are confused with trade names. Trade names only refer to the name of the company that sells the product or service. Trademarks are the name of the product or service that a particular company is offering for sale in the public. Trademarks are protected under federal trademark laws, and trade names are protected under state laws wherein the company resides.

Consumers often purchase a product or service because they associate a certain quality or reputation to the trademark or service mark. Service marks, which are also a form of trademark protection, are a name or symbol that identifies services rather than products provided by a company. Examples of service marks include “Blue Cross Blue Shield,” the health-care provider. Certification marks are a specific form of trademark protection, which consists of a name or a symbol identifying a particular group, board, or commission that judges the quality of goods or services. For example, in the U.S., we have power equipment certifications, such as “UL Approved.” The final form of trademark protection is referred to as collective marks. These consist of an identifying symbol or name showing membership in an organization, such as in the financial industries, the “FDIC.”


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