The term “trademark” is often used to refer to any of the four types of marks that can be registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
These four types of marks are trademarks, service marks, certification marks, and collective marks.
The two primary (most popular) types of marks that are registered with the USPTO are trademarks and service marks.
The term trademark means any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof used by a person, to identify and distinguish his or her goods, including a unique product, from those produced or sold by others.
A trademark is used in association with a product. For example, the
“Starbucks” logo of the mermaid in a circle found on Starbucks’ coffee cups is used in association with the product, coffee products. The mark “Coca Cola” is used in association with sodas.
The term “service mark” means any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof used by a person, to identify and distinguish the services of one person, including a unique service, from the services of others.
A service mark therefore is used in association with services. For example, the actual name “Starbucks” is used in association with retail store services in the field of coffee, tea, etc.
The other types of marks that can be registered with the USPTO are certification marks and collective marks.
The term “certification mark” means any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof used by a person other than its owner, and certifies that the goods or services in relation to which it is used possesses certain defined characteristics.
Such characteristics may include material, mode of manufacture, quality, accuracy, or other characteristics of such person’s goods or services. Unlike trademarks and service marks, an owner of a certification mark must not carry on a trade or business involving the supply of goods or services of the kind certified.
The owner of the mark authorizes others to use the certification mark. For example using a mark registered by a labor union may certify that the work or labor on the goods or services was performed by members of that union.
Another example of a certification mark is the “Energy star” logo which is placed on products that are deemed energy-efficient. This logo lets consumers know that the product they are purchasing has been certified to be energy-efficient by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The term “collective mark” means a trademark or service mark used by the members of a cooperative, an association, or other collective group or organization, and is often used by the members of the organization to identify themselves with a level of quality or accuracy, geographic origin, or other characteristics set by the organization.
One example would be the mark “CPA”, used to indicate members of the Society of Certified Public Accounts.
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