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Searching for Trademarks

What is a Trademark?

A trademark is a brand name. A trademark or service mark includes any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination, used or intended to be used to identify and distinguish the goods/services of one seller or provider from those of others, and to indicate the source of the goods/services. 

Although federal registration of a mark is not mandatory, it has several advantages, including notice to the public of the registrant's claim of ownership of the mark, legal presumption of ownership nationwide, and exclusive right to use the mark on or in connection with the goods/services listed in the registration.

For additional information, consult Protecting Your Trademark: Enhancing Your Rights through Federal Registration published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Types of Trademarks

Strong marks - These marks are easier to protect than others and will be the easiest for you to present third-party usage of the mark. Strong marks can be registered with the US Patent and Trademark Office and are therefore easier to legally protect.

  • Fanciful marks are invented words with no dictionary or other known meaning
  • Arbitrary marks are actual words with a known meaning that have no association /relationship with the goods being protected
  • Suggestive marks suggest, but do not describe, qualities or a connection to the goods or services

Weak marks - These marks are probably being used by others to describe a good or service and are difficult and costly to police and protect.  Weak marks are not registrable and are difficult to protect.

  • Descriptive marks are word or designs that describe the goods and/or services
  • Generic marks are common, everyday names for a good or service.  These are the weakest type of mark and cannot be registered.

Patents and Copyright

Copyright and patent protection are both also issued by the United States Government.  For additional information consult: 

Library of Congress, US Copyright Office

US Patent and Trademark Office, Patent home page