A trademark or service mark is a word, phrase, symbol, or design, or a combination thereof, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods or services of one party from those of others.
A trademark is typically a name, word, phrase, logo, symbol, design, image, or a combination of these elements. The owner of a trademark may pursue legal action against trademark infringement.
A trademark may be designated by the following symbols:
™ (the “trademark symbol”, which is the letters “TM” in superscript, for an unregistered trademark, 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)
The United States, Canada, and other countries recognize common law trademark rights, which means action can be taken to protect an unregistered trademark if it is in use.
Registration of trademarks gives certain benefits to a trademark holder on top of common law trademark rights, including heightened protection for registered trademarks in court, nationwide constructive use, and the ability to sue for treble damages and attorney’s fees.
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