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Basic Facts

Get the Basic Facts About Trademarks – USPTO

What you need to know about trademark fact directly from the USPTO

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is a fee-funded agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The role of the USPTO is to grant patents for the protection of inventions and to register trademarks and service marks for products and services, respectively. It serves the interests of small and large businesses as well as consumers, and helps strengthen the economy by promoting the industrial and technological progress of the nation.

The Commissioner for Trademarks heads the trademark organization and ensures that the USPTO properly examines trademark applications and grants registrations when applicants are entitled to them; records ownership changes of trademarks; maintains search files and records of U.S. trademarks; and publishes and disseminates information such as the Basic Facts handbook.

Basic Facts: What is a trademark or service mark? 

A trademark is generally 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 service mark is the same as a trademark, except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than goods. Throughout this booklet, the terms “trademark” and “mark” refer to both trademarks and service marks. 

Basic Facts: Do trademarks, copyrights, and patents protect the same things?

No. Trademarks, copyrights, and patents protect different types of intellectual property. A trademark typically protects brand names and logos used on goods and services. A copyright protects an original artistic or literary work. A patent protects an invention. For example, if you invent a new kind of vacuum cleaner, you would apply for a patent to protect the invention itself. You would apply to register a trademark to protect the brand name of the vacuum cleaner. And you might register a copyright for the TV commercial that you use to market the product. 

USPTO "BASIC FACTS ABOUT TRADEMARKS" Booklet Now

United States Patent and Trademark Office


Rhonda Harper, Trademark Infringement Survey Expert, Expert Witness

Rhonda HarperRetained by 100+ law firms since 2005, Ms. Harper is courtroom proven. She has been engaged to provide 65+ surveys, 80+ reports, 30+ rebuttals, 45+ depositions, and serve in 20+ trials. She has provided services to both Plaintiffs (60%) and Defendants (40%) across trademark and trade dress, packaging, merchandising, defamation, licensing, breach of contract, advertising, and commercial reasonableness. She has provided services in virtually every Circuit as well as JAMS and TTAB.

Ms. Harper's 30+ year career includes serving as a Fortune 100 Chief Marketing Officer. Having authored two books, she is a former Adjunct MBA Marketing Professor.

Ms. Harper is routinely retained to formulate expert surveys, conduct rebuttal critiques, or construct rebuttal surveys to show the potential difference in results with properly designed and executed surveys. She has extensive experience and a deep understanding of survey design, sampling, question construction, data analysis, and methodological pitfalls that introduce bias or systematic error.

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