Frequently Asked Questions
What is a service mark and how does it differ from a trademark?
A service mark is a type of trademark that is used to identify and distinguish the services of one provider from those of others. It is similar to a trademark, but the key difference lies in what they represent. While a trademark is used to mark a product, a service mark is used to mark a service. The terms "trademark" and "mark" are often used interchangeably to refer to both trademarks and service marks, but they are not the same. The rights to use a trademark or service mark exclusively can be granted as long as the mark is not confusingly similar to another mark, making it difficult for consumers to distinguish between the two. This principle applies to both service marks and trademarks, including wordmarks, which are text-based logos. For instance, if a wordmark evokes the same image of a pictorial depiction that is already in use, it could be ruled as too similar to another mark. An example of this was a case involving a shoe company that used a lion's head silhouette with the letter L for their logo. It was ruled to be too similar to a wordmark lion that was also used to represent a shoe company.
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