The different faces of a trademark

“A trademark or trade mark or trade-mark [1] is a distinctive sign or indicator used by an individual, business organization, or other legal entity to identify that the products or services to consumers with which the trademark appears originate from a unique source, and to distinguish its products or services from those of other entities.”


So what does this mean?

What it means is that there are three symbols that represent various stages of a trademark. Registered trademarks, unregistered trademarks and unregistered service marks.

As we’ve discussed in previous articles, you can protect your product with an unregistered trademark, even though, it is far more desirable to secure a proper trademark.

Below are the different symbols, to help you decide which one to properly affix to your brand/service name.

Registered Trademark




Unregistered Trademark – a mark used to promote or brand goods.



Unregistered Service Mark – a mark used to promote or brand services



Just a Refresher

“The owner of a registered trademark may commence legal proceedings for trademark infringement to prevent unauthorized use of that trademark. However, registration is not required. The owner of a common law trademark may also file suit, but an unregistered mark may be protectable only within the geographical area within which it has been used or in geographical areas into which it may be reasonably expected to expand.”

Rand Brenner Author
Founder , Licensing4Profits
Rand Brenner is an IP professional whose passion is helping inventors, startups, and businesses of all sizes use licensing to turn their IP into income-producing products, services, and technologies. His decades of experience includes medical devices to food technology to consumer products. He’s licensed some of the biggest Hollywood entertainment blockbusters including the Batman Movies (1 and 2), and the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Rand is a featured speaker on licensing at investment conferences, trade shows, colleges and startup events. He’s a published writer with articles appearing in several prestigious trade magazines. Rand also mentors at Cal State Fullerton Business School and is a judge for their startup business plan competitions.

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