Trademark

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

A trademark may be designated by the following symbols:

  • (the "trademark symbol", which is the letters "TM", for an unregistered trade mark, a mark used to promote or brand goods)
  • (which is the letters "SM" in superscript, for an unregistered service mark, a mark used to promote or brand services)
  • ® (the letter "R" surrounded by a circle, for a registered trademark)

A trademark is typically a name, word, phrase, logo, symbol, design, image, or a combination of these elements. There is also a range of non-conventional trademarks comprising marks which do not fall into these standard categories, such as those based on color, smell, or sound.

The owner of a trademark may initiate legal proceedings for trademark infringement to prevent unauthorized use of that trademark. Most countries require formal registration of a trademark as a precondition for pursuing this type of action. A few countries, including the United States and Canada, also recognize common law trademark rights, which means action can be taken to protect a trademark that is in use but not registered. Generally, common law trademarks do not offer the holder as much legal protection as registered trademarks.

The term trademark is also used informally to refer to any distinguishing attribute by which an individual is readily identified, such as the well-known characteristics of celebrities. When a trademark is used in relation to services rather than products, it may sometimes be called a service mark, particularly in the United States.

Read more about Trademark:  Fundamental Concepts, History, Symbols, Terminology, Registration, Search, Ability To Register, Maintaining Rights, Enforcing Rights, International Law

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