What is a service mark?

Registering a service mark makes it a trademark.

A trademark is a very familiar concept and symbol that signals a recognizable brand of a company’s products, i.e. its “trade”. Unregistered, a trademark is designated as ™. Registered, appears as ®. A service mark is a parallel use to a trademark, but is used for services rather than goods. In many of its explanations and definitions, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) actually uses the word trademark to refer to trademarks and service marks.

The official definition of a USPTO service mark is “any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination, used or intended to be used, in commerce, to identify and distinguish the services of one provider from services provided by others, and to indicate the origin of the services. ” While registration of a service mark is not mandatory, it does offer several important benefits, including evidence of ownership, legal presumption of ownership, and the ability to use the application as the basis for applying for foreign registration. An unregistered service mark is indicated by the abbreviation SM . The registered symbol ® is the same as the registered trademarks.

There are several steps to acquiring a service mark registration. The first is to determine whether a service tag is the appropriate intellectual property type to create and prototype a brand. At the same time, it is necessary to search the USPTO Database of Trademarks and Service Marks to be aware of existing rights to various marks that may bear a similarity to the proposed service mark. The “Design Search Code Manual” categorizes brand designs and assists in searching for them, and the search can be conducted at the Public Trademark Search Library in Alexandria, Virginia. If a potentially conflicting trademark is discovered, the TARR (Trademark Applications and Registrations Retrieval) database can be used to discover the current status of the trademark.

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Once the design has been cleared as non-conflicting, the application must be completed. This includes a description of the service that the service tag is intended to represent. It also includes a clear description of the service mark to be registered. There is a fee involved in the registration process, which can take several years. Often, the services of an attorney are purchased for the registration of the service mark.

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