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What is a Trademark?

According to Restatement (Third) of Unfair Competition § 9 (1995), a trademark is a word, name, symbol, device, or other designation, or a combination of such designations, that is distinctive of a person’s goods or services and that is used in a manner that identifies those goods or services and distinguishes them from the goods or services of others. It is a mark that is used in a manner that is consistent to be understood by the consuming public as an identifying mark.

The sole purpose of a trademark is to provide an identification to consumers who are likely to recognize the term or symbol as an indication of source.

A trademark or service mark can be a word, logo, slogan, package design, or other source indicator (or a combination thereof), or any other cognizable thing that serves to indicate a particular source, good or service. For example, BIG MAC is a word mark for hamburgers, THE SHELL design is a logo for gasoline, THE ULTIMATE DRIVING MACHINE is a slogan for automobiles, and the COCA-COLA bottle is a package design mark (also called trade dress) for soft drinks. 

What a Trademark is NOT

A trademark is not meant to be a description of your good. A trademark cannot be a generic name for your product or service.