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 is President / CEO of Licensing Consulting Group, an intellectual property management and licensing company specializing in assisting clients in IP Management, Strategic Consulting, Acquisition of Licensing Rights, and Property Representation. Rand has licensed some of the biggest Hollywood blockbusters, including “Batman” and the “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers”, both of which generated billions of dollars in worldwide merchandise sales. He has lead various international licensing programs as both licensee and licensor, and through consulting projects focused on licensing strategy, brand development, sponsorship sales and property representation.

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