What Is A Trademark?
A trademark is a type of mark. Traditionally, the term, "trademark," described only marks designating products, or "goods" (as opposed to services). However, the word is increasingly being used to describe any type of mark, not just traditional "trademarks." These other marks are service marks and trade dress.
Trademarks are generally defined as distinctive symbols, pictures, or words that sellers affix to distinguish and identify the origin of their products. Trademark status may also be granted to distinctive and unique packaging, color combinations, building designs, product styles, and overall presentations. It is also possible to receive trademark status for identification that is not on its face distinct or unique but which has developed a secondary meaning over time that identifies it with the product or seller.
The owner of a trademark has exclusive right to use it on the product it was intended to identify and often on related products. The primary purpose of trademarks is to prevent consumers from becoming confused about the source or origin of a product or service.
In the United States trademarks may be protected by both Federal statute under the Lanham Act and states' statutory and/or common laws. Congress enacted the Lanham Act under its Constitutional grant of authority to regulate interstate and foreign commerce. A trademark registered under the Lanham Act has nationwide protection.
Under state common law, trademarks are protected as part of the law of unfair competition. Registration is not required. tates' statutory provisions on trademarks differ but most have adopted a version of the Model Trademark Bill (MTB) or the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act (UDTPA). The MTB provides for registration of trademarks while the UDTPA does not. The Tariff Act of 1930 provides further protection of trademarks.
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