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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.

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.

  • Ford is a registered trademark because it is the name of a company and a specific automobile.
  • 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.

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Terms and Links

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