Introduction to Trademarks

Introduction to Trademarks

A trademark is anything that is used, or intended to be used, to identify the goods of one manufacturer from the goods of others. It is a brand name. Trademarks are important business tools because they allow companies to establish their product's reputation without having to worry that an inferior product will diminish their reputation or profit by deceiving the consumer. Trademarks include words, names, symbols and logos. Anything that distinctly identifies your company can be a trademark, provided that it is for goods.

A service mark is very similar to a trademark, except that it is used to distinguish services in the stream of commerce. Like a trademark, a service mark can include words, names, symbols and logos. Typically, trademarks appear on the actual product or its packaging. Service marks appear mostly in advertising for the services. In this education center, when we use the term "trademark," we generally mean both trademarks and service marks.

If you wish to register a trademark or service mark, LegalZoom can help you obtain one from the convenience of your home or office and without any hassles. Simply answer a few questions online and we'll complete your trademark application today!


  • Trademark Statement of Use
    To register a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), you must prove that you are actively using your trademark to sell goods or sell or advertise services. In other words, you cannot register a trademark simply to tie up the rights to it. You must actually use it in commerce...
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  • Requirements for Filing Statement of Use
    Along with your Statement of Use, you must provide to the USPTO: (1) a filing fee for each class of goods or services, and (2) a specimen showing use of the trademark for each class of goods or services that you originally selected. Your trademark can only be registered in those classes and those...
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  • A Word About Trademark Specimens
    A trademark specimen is a real-world example of how you are using your trademark on goods or in the offer of services. A specimen is more than just a picture of your trademark or logo. For goods (products), acceptable specimens include labels, tags, packaging material, instruction manuals and...
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  • Time Frame for Filing a Trademark Statement of Use
    To complete the trademark registration process, you must file a Trademark Statement of Use within the following time period:
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  • Searching for Conflicting Trademarks
    While you are not required to search for conflicting trademarks, it is highly recommended. Should there be any existing trademarks already federally registered that conflict with yours, your application can be denied and your filing fees would not be refundable. Additionally, since trademarks can...
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  • Legal Requirements for Registering Your Trademark
    There are four basic requirements for filing a trademark (or service mark) with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The trademark must be applied for under the actual owner's name. The owner of the trademark is the person who controls the nature and the quality of the goods sold or the...
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