Insights / June 21, 2021

SHOULD YOU USE A TRADEMARK OR SERVICE MARK FOR YOUR BUSINESS?

Your unique service deserves to be trademarked as much as anything else you’ve worked hard to create.  You need to choose a trademark symbol to safeguard your genius, but which is best? One option is…

/ Written by Catherine Cavella

Your unique service deserves to be trademarked as much as anything else you’ve worked hard to create.  You need to choose a trademark symbol to safeguard your genius, but which is best? One option is a servicemark, (SM — Servicemark Symbol SM sometimes written “service mark” or “service-mark”) which is a trademark that at one time was necessary to identify a trademarked service. With current law however, you might not want to use the SM and here’s why:

A servicemark is just a trademark for services instead of products (which trademark lawyers call “goods”). If you go to USPTO.gov/Trademarks, you will see lots of references to “goods and services” or “goods/services.” That’s because trademarks don’t exist as words or logos by themselves – they exist only as words or logos used in connection with specific goods and/or services.

For example, if you go to a Toyota dealership (say, Thompson Toyota® in Doylestown, PA) to buy a Toyota® Prius®, you would be encountering at least three trademarks. Can you guess what they are?

Answer: Toyota® for cars and Prius® for cars would be registered – those are for the goods (cars) so they are trademarks. Thompson Toyota® would be registered for auto dealership services.

The common term “trademark” is used for both goods trademarks and service “servicemarks” – in other words, for all marks that identify the source of goods or services. So, you can just forget the word “servicemark”, or just read “trademark” when you see it.

For this reason, although you can use SM for your “servicemarks”, IP WORKS LAW recommends just using TM as you do with your product trademarks. The word “trademark” and the trademark symbol TM ™ will continue to tell people very clearly that what is marked is a trademark belonging exclusively to your business.  Once they are registered, both trademarks and servicemarks use the registered trademark symbol, ® (R)

Do you have a question about your unique service?  The team at IP WORKS LAW is looking forward to connecting with you in safe, confidential conversation to protect your business and intellectual property. Contact IP WORKS LAW today:

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