Trademarks and servicemarks are ways that business can protect intellectual property that identifies a specific and unique product and service. In the heavily saturated consumer marketplace, having a specific, identifiable product that can be trademarked, and a slogan or logo that can be servicemarked, are important ways business can distinguish themselves.

Servicemarks are commonly called trademarks, but they distinguish the source of goods or products, rather than the products themselves. When working on branding, consider both developing unique products that can be trademarked, and matching or complimentary services, logos, or slogans that can also help identify both the product and the company.

There are two ways companies can establish trademark and servicemark rights. If trade and servicemarks are used in business regularly and over a period of time, they can be said to have established common law rights to that trademark. This interpretation is usually distinguished by state and local courts if there is a conflict.

Trademarks and servicemarks can also be registered. This registration is established legally, and allows a business to defend ownership and use in the event another business tries to appropriate use of this intellectual property. Legal registration is by far the most powerful and binding manner in which to establish ownership of trademarks and servicemarks. Their legal power means that others are less likely to appropriate intellectual property that seems to be free for the taking.

It takes creativity, work, and time to establish a unique product and service in the competitive consumer goods marketplace. Consider protecting your business by trademarking and servicemarking your product through a lawyer knowledgeable about business and intellectual property rights.