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Patents, Trademarks, and Copyright



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.

Usually 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


Important Databases - United States Patent and Trademark Office 


Trademark Searching


State Trademark Information


More Information, including World-Wide Searching


For Historical Investigation


-Missing 1872 - 1875.


Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office - In this period, trademark records were in the same volumes with patent records - these volumes are thanks to the Hathi Trust.
Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office. Trademarks. and  Official Gazette of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Trademarks.  Later, trademark records were published in a separate series from patent records.  Again, these volumes are thanks to the Hathi Trust.

Trademark Compared with Organization Name

The name of a business may also be used as a trademark but the two aren't exactly the same.

  • A business name identifies the organization producing a product or offering a service
  • A trademark identifies a product or service
    • The name may be used for both the organization and the product or service.  For example when:
      • the business provides a service such as marketing or accounting
      • the organization's name is also used for a product or service, as 
        • Tesla and Tesla vehicles
        • Google and the Google browser service

The Small Business Administration has detailed business name advice, also including domain name (website address) as a business name.

Trying to Avoid Business Name Conflict:

Business directories are a good place to check for organization names that are already in use.  Here are two with broad coverage:


Claiming a name and for possible searching:

  • We expect DBA (doing business as) filings to be made at the office of the County Clerk (or similar local official)
  • State offices and databases (such as the Office of the Texas Secretary of State and SOSDirect for the state of Texas) for registrations of:
    • Companies incorporated in the state.
    • Limited partnerships filed in state.
    • State trademarks such as Texas Trademarks. 

Terms and Links

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