Definition of Trademark

The definition of trademark is any word, name or symbol that is used by a manufacturer or merchant to identify their goods as distinguished from those made or sold by others.

Trademarks are of interest to inventors because they offer additional rights to those provided by patents.

They are sometimes confused with other types of identifying marks that have their own unique definitions.

Service Mark

A trademark that identifies a service, rather than goods, is known as a "service mark" in some countries. Television, telephone and transportation companies would be examples of services.

Service marks are CNN, AT&T and FEDex. Service marks may also refer to the identifying features of a person, as in Oprah or the architectural features of a building or store, like McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken or FotoMat.

Sound Mark

A definition of trademark that refers to a distinctive sound, associated with a product or service, is known as a "sound mark".

The MGM "lion roar", the THX "digital sound" and the NBC "chimes" are sound marks.

Certification Mark

A "certification mark" is commonly included within the definition of trademark. It is the identifying words and/or symbols of an organization that "certifies" a characteristic of a product or service. It is used to assure consumers that a particular product or service meets certain criteria.

Underwriters Laboratories "UL" and the Idaho Potato Commission's "Grown in Idaho" are certification marks.

Collective Mark

A "collective mark" refers to a trademark used by membership organizations. It is used by members to indicate their membership, such as the "AAA" mark for the American Automobile Association or the "NCAA" mark for the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Trade Name

A "trade name" is a registered business name used by a company to identify itself when providing products or services. For example, The Proctor & Gamble Company uses the trade name Proctor & Gamble when selling it's trademark "Ivory" soap.

Read more about trademarks.

Brand Name

A "brand name" generally refers to how a merchant brands or uses their trade name, trademarks or other marks.

Branding and brand recognition, refers to the experiences consumers have toward a product or service.

It is generally a marketing term that refers to how consumers are identifying with a product, service, company or person.

For example, a car manufacturer will have one of their vehicles used in a movie. The film may feature images of the vehicle, it's performance and trademarks.

It may be driven by the hero in the movie. The car company's name or slogan may be used in the dialog. This is called branding.