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Basic Trademark Facts

Get the Basic Facts About Trademarks – USPTO

Trademark Facts You Need to Know

Directly from the USPTO


United States Patent and Trademark Office

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is an agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce. The role of the USPTO is to grant patents for the protection of inventions and to register trademarks and service marks for products and services, respectively. The Commissioner for Trademarks responsponsibilities include to: ensures that the USPTO examines trademark applications and grants registrations when applicants are entitled to them; record ownership changes of trademarks; maintain search files and records of U.S. trademarks; and publish and disseminate information.

What is a trademark or service mark? 

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

A service mark is the same as a trademark, except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than goods. Throughout this booklet, the terms “trademark” and “mark” refer to both trademarks and service marks. 

Do trademarks, copyrights, and patents protect the same things?

No. Trademarks, copyrights, and patents protect different types of intellectual property. A trademark typically protects brand names and logos used on goods and services. A copyright protects an original artistic or literary work. A patent protects an invention. For example, if you invent a new kind of vacuum cleaner, you would apply for a patent to protect the invention itself. You would apply to register a trademark to protect the brand name of the vacuum cleaner. And you might register a copyright for the TV commercial that you use to market the product. 

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