Trademarks have to inform potential buyers about the goods and services that are trademarked. Trademarks can be characteristic of the goods or they can be the companies that made them.
Companies have a lot of alternatives when they are deciding how to design a legitimate trademark. They can incorporate logos, words, shapes, and colors. And in some instances even sounds can be trademarked.
Of utmost importance, though, is that the design of the trademark is distinctive. For example, if a company wanted to use a descriptive name that doesn’t help potential purchasers identify the origin of the product then it would not be considered to be a valid trademark.
The Different Types of Trademarks:
1. Trademarks and Service Marks
A trademark is a word, symbol, design, or phrase, or a combination of symbols, words, phrases and/or designs that identify and distinguish the source of goods from one entity to another. A service mark is essentially the same as a trademark except it is used to identify and distinguish the source of a service instead of a product.
In the past trademark law only protected marks that regarded products. However, as the need for protecting the source of services gained importance the law was extended to encompass services as well.
Nowadays, even though trademark scholars and attorneys use the term “goods and services” they are using it more out of habit than anything else because trademarks now cover both goods and services.
2. Collective Marks
Collective marks indicate that the origin of the goods and services is a member of an association and not a company. A collective mark empowers association members to jointly profit from the image that was created by the collective mark.
When a collective mark is used it informs consumers that the company that is using the mark has met the standards that were set by the association. One example is the term “realtor.” It is a collective mark that can only be used by real estate agents who are members of a national association of realtors. A real estate agent who is not a member of that association cannot call himself or herself a “realtor.”
3. Certification Marks
A certification mark is similar to a collective mark. Although it doesn’t indicate the origin of certain goods it does indicate specific characteristics of those goods. For example, certification marks could indicate that a product was made from 100% cotton.
Certification marks are typically held by independent bodies that maintain certain standards which must be met in order for a product to bear that mark.