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What is a Trademark Anyway?

A trademark is something that identifies a good (trademark) or service (service mark) as coming from your company. The “generic” reference for both of these is “mark” or “trademark”. Trademarks can be words alone (APPLE for computers), a design (the Chevrolet chevron), words and a design (MICROSOFT with the window icon for computer software), or words or letters in a certain style (the Ford script).

Trademarks can also be abbreviations (VW cars, Bud beer), slogans (Just Do It! for athletic shoes), colors (pink for Owens-Corning insulation, blue for Tiffany jewelry), scents, product (Coca-Cola soda bottle or building designs (McDonald’s restaurants). A mark must be able to distinguish your goods and services from the goods or services of others.

Trademarks are used by merchants and manufacturers to identify goods as their own (Coca-Cola soda or Pepsi soda). They also are referred to as brand names. Service marks identify the source of services, such as retail stores, restaurants and contractors.

But a trademark is much more than this. It is the feeling people get when they see your trademark on a product. Is this the dishwashing soap you can soak in, or is it the one that cleans wildlife after an oil spill? Do you want to stay in a cheap, utilitarian hotel or book a luxurious experience? People have strong feelings about the taste, value and quality of a Wendy’s Single hamburger, a McDonald’s Big Mac hamburger or a Burger King Whopper hamburger. That is what a trademark does for your business – it identifies the quality and characteristics people can expect from your products and services.

This is known as goodwill, and it is an important asset of your business.


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