Knowing the Distinction Between a Trade and Service Mark is Essential

Law Firm Newswire



Los Angeles, CA (Law Firm Newswire) February 23, 2011 – Knowing what is what in the business world when it comes to trade and service marks helps a business move forward.

“It’s often helpful if people understand the differences between trade and service marks when they’re running a business. A trademark is protection you get for any device, symbol, name or word that’s original and new. The trademark says the product is protected by trademark law and is the property of the mark owner. An example would be the Nike ‘swoosh’ mark, which everyone recognizes,” said David Alden Erikson, a Los Angeles business litigation attorney. Mr. Erikson specializes in Los Angeles fashion law, Internet law, business litigation, trademark and copyright law.

Although the word “trademark” is most often used to refer to any kind of protected mark, in reality, it is only the mark itself that sets it apart from others and distinguishes from that mark from others. There are actually several types of protective marks that may be applied for and each may have its own area of protection.

“Service marks are like trademarks, but the act to protect and distinguish only services. You may have seen a registered service mark before and not realized what it is or meant. It will look like this: ‘®’,” Erikson said.

The main reason why there are the two marks is that while a company name is a registered trademark, that trademark does not protect the services that company offers. An example would be a writer registering their company name as SpiritualPen, their trade name, and their unique style of expression would be their service mark. Generally speaking, trade names can only get protection if there is a service or trademark registered.

“There are other protected marks that you may consider in the course of your business. That would include a certification mark that protects seals of approval and goods from specific sources. Another mark is the collective mark, usually used for goods made collectively by a group of people/owners. In other words, the group would use one company name and a collective mark for their branding and to protect their work,” Erikson said. This is not an exhaustive list of all the various marks that could be used to enhance a business, as there is also trade dress and product configuration.

The simplest thing to do when starting a business is to figure out what protection is needed for the brand and services, then call a skilled Los Angeles trademark and copyright lawyer. It is one call that will make a world of difference on how a business is run successfully. The ultimate goal is to cover all the bases legally and know protection is in place. Better safe now than sorry later if something is missed along the way.

To learn more about David Alden Erikson, Attorney at Law, visit

David Erikson Attorney At Law
200 North Larchmont Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90004-3707
Call: (323) 465-3100

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