A trademark is defined as “a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination thereof, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.” A trademark is more commonly known as a logo. A trade name would be a shortened version of your company’s official name that is publicly recognized, commonly known as a brand name. A trademark covers different information than a copyright or patent. A copyright covers artistic or written content, whereas a patent covers ideas. This article will refer to trademarks and trade names together as just, “trademarks.”
For an example of these concepts, we all know the company, Adidas. Adidas’ full name is Adidas AG, which was incorporated in Germany. Here in the U.S., we know it by its registered trade name, the “Adidas” brand name. We recognize instantly its trademark, which is its three-striped logo. Adidas’ website and the pictures that appear on it are copyrighted, and if it has invented anything, such as an advanced design of running shoe, then it presumably filed for a patent.
Trademark applications are registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on the Principal Register. The USPTO does not decide whether the person or business that files for the trademark has the right to use it; it merely decides whether the registration criteria are met. If the registration criteria are met, then the USPTO will officially register your trademark. Both of these subjects are discussed in more detail below.
(Updated 10/3/2012 by AD)
For other information about trademarks, please click on one of the following
Why File an Application for a Trademark or Trade Name
Requirements: Filing Bases
General Filing Process
What Happens After Filing
How to Maintain a Trademark or Trade Name
Distinctions between Registration and Use