What Is The Difference Between A Trademark And A Service Mark?

There are many different important and valuable types of intellectual property that a business here in Michigan can hold. A couple of examples are trademarks and service marks.

Trademarks and service marks are very similar concepts. They both consist of words, phrases, designs or symbols (or some combination of these) that indicate what business is the source of a given thing.

What makes them different are what types of things they regard. Trademarks regard goods, while service marks regard services.

One thing that can sometimes be a source of confusion that it is important to note is that, while the formal definition of trademark limits it to regarding goods (and not services), the word "trademark" is sometimes used colloquially in relation to both service marks and trademarks.

When a company holds a trademark or a service mark, and this intellectual property is infringed upon by another business, the company could potentially suffer a great amount of harm. Thus, unsurprisingly, rather contentious litigation can arise out of disputes between businesses over service marks or trademarks.

When litigation is needed for a business to properly protect one of its service marks or trademarks, it can be important for the business to act properly during the various different steps of the litigation process. Missteps during business litigation regarding intellectual property could have wide-ranging consequences for a business. Knowledgeable Michigan business law attorneys can assist companies when it comes to litigation matters regarding the protection of trademarks, service marks or other forms of intellectual property.

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office, "Frequently Asked Questions about Trademarks," Accessed Oct. 23, 2014

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