What is a service mark?
A service mark is nearly the same thing as a trademark except it “identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than goods.” The USPTO generally refers to a “service mark” as a “mark” so in the event you come across these two terms, they both mean the same thing. Some businesses are often required to obtain both because both protect and benefit the business in different ways. Bright Hub provided an example which is explained below.
A restaurant that provides food services to clients needs a service mark for this and if they sell food products, which most do, they need to trademark the labels or names of the food in their menu.
Does the USPTO Accept All Applications?
While you might meet the appropriate criteria to file an application for a patent, trademark, or even a service mark, not everyone is granted with these rights to have one. It takes the USPTO a lengthy period of time before they will review your application and there may be something contained in it that doesn’t permit for you to have either one of the three.
In terms of trademarks, it is important that you conduct a trademark search prior to submitting your application to avoid having the USPTO deny it. This can help you identify whether another party already has rights to your trademark, and if your trademark is weak or too difficult to protect.
You can conduct a trademark search by using the free search system identified as TESS. It can be accessed by clicking here and is available for you to use 24/7.
When will the USPTO deny my mark application?
The USPTO has the right to refuse registration of a proposed mark for many reasons including the mark being:
- A surname
- Geographically descriptive of the origin of the goods/ services
- Disparaging or offensive
- A foreign term that translates to a descriptive or generic term
- An individual’s name or likeness
- The title of a single book and/or movie
- It is used in a purely ornamental manner
There are many benefits that come along with hiring an attorney who specializes in trademark and patent law. Some ways a patent or trademark lawyer can help you include:
- Assisting you with the application process.
- Help you search the trademark database to ensure your idea isn’t already protected.
- Check the status of your application and submit any additional information required.
- Explain the application process to help you better understand it.
- Review with you the basics behind a trademark, patent, and service mark.
If you need assistance with any of the above or have another issue relating to patents and trademarks, give us a call as we can locate a North Carolina patent and trademark lawyer in your area who is available to address your matter.