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Patents, Trademarks, and Copyright

Trademarks

Trademarks

What is a trademark or service mark?

  • trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. [For more information see: Trademark from Cornell University Law School.]

  • service mark is the same as a trademark, except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product. The terms "trademark" and "mark" refer to both trademarks and service marks.

  • Normally a mark for goods appears on the product or its packaging, while a service mark appears in advertising for the services.

  • A trademark is different from a patent or copyright. A patent protects an invention. A copyright protects an original artistic or literary work. 

  • Federal trademarks, issued by the USPTO, are valid in all 50 states. In addition, each state issues its own trademarks.

  • The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office provides extensive trademark information: Trademark Basics

Quick Links - United States Patent and Trademark Office 

Trademark Searching

State Trademark Information

More Information

Where to Find Business Names: DBA, Inc., Trademarks, Service Marks

Business names and product names have much in common, however when it comes to trademarks there are some differences. First and most importantly, product names can always be trademarked if the name does not infringe another name.

For more information on how similar a name can be: Likelihood of Confusion.

Business names can be trademarked if the business provides a service, such as marketing, legal, accounting, etc. Business names, such as Ford Motor Company, Apple Computer, Advanced Micro Devices may be trademarked, but only if there are goods or services with that name. For more information see, "The Difference Between a Trade name and a Trademark - And Why You Can't Overlook Either."

  • Ford is a registered trademark because it is the name of a company and a specific car
  • Google is both a company name and a service.

The following business directories are a good place to check for names that are already in use, thereby avoiding infringement.

You might also try:

  • Local county clerk's office for DBA (doing business as) filings.
  • Texas Secretary of State
  • Incorporation Office for companies incorporated in Texas.
  • Partnership Office, for limited partnerships filed in Texas.
  • Texas Trademark Clerk's Office - Secretary of State
  • United States Patent and Trademark Office online Trademark database

Disclaimer

The engineering librarians can not provide the following services:

  • we can not do the search for you
  • we can not provide legal help or advise
  • we can not help you with the application process

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