What is a Trademark?

Can Anything Be a Trademark?

A trademark is a brand identifier. A trademark can be practically anything that is capable of identifying a source of goods. For example, a trademark can be a word, logo or graphic design, a slogan. A trademark can even be a sound, a color, or a scent. Anything can be a trademark, as long as it can clearly identify a source or origin of goods.

What Is a Service Mark?

A service mark, ℠, operates just like a trademark. The main distinction is that a Service Mark is used to identify a brand or source of services. Trademarks, on the other hand, identify a a brand or a source of goods. In fact, most of the examples of Trademarks below are actually Service Marks. Unless noted otherwise, trademark and service mark are used interchangeably.

Trademark Symbol or TM Symbol

Examples of Different Types of Trademarks

A Trademark Can Be a Word. . . .

A Word Trademark – also known as a Name or Text Trademark – is a trademark that consists of letters and numbers. Here are a few examples of words that are famous trademarks.


A Trademark Can Be a Stylized Word. . . .

A Stylized Word Trademark  – similar to a logo or graphic design (discussed below) – is a trademark that is specific to a particular stylization of Letters and Numbers. Here are a few examples of words that are famous trademarks.

Example of a stylized text trademark                       Stylized text trademark logo              what is a trademark

One of the most common questions is whether a new client should file for trademark rights for the name and the logo (stylized word mark).  In most cases registering a Standard Character trademark is advised as the first step in securing trademark rights. The situation may changed based on your particular situation. So, consult with a trademark attorney.

A Trademark Can Be a Logo, Symbol, or Graphic Design. . . .

A logo, symbol or graphic design that identifies a source of goods and distinguishes a company’s products from other company’s products in the market can be a trademark. Here are some examples of logos, symbols, or graphic designs that function as trademarks. The McDonald’s Arches and the Amazon smile placed on Amazon shipment boxes are examples of logos, symbols, or graphic designs functioning as trademarks.

logo trademark online example                amazon trademark online logo brand

A Trademark Can Be a Slogan. . . .

Often a company’s catch-phrase or slogan functions as a trademark if it is used in a manner that identifies a source of goods. Here is an example of slogan that is a trademark.

McDonald’s Slogan “I’m Lovin’ It”, as seen on a soft drink cup, is a U.S. Trademark (Registration No. 3104640).

Trademark Slogan Phrase What is a trademark

A Trademark Can Be a Scent or Smell. . . .

Specific scents or smells that identify a brand can function as trademarks. For example Verizon has a U.S. Trademark Registration for the “flowery musk scent” in its stores.

A Trademark Can Be a Jingle or Sound. . . .

Short sounds associated with a company or brand can function as trademark if it identifies a source of goods. A famous example of such sound functioning as a trademark is NBC’s short chime. Follow the link below to hear the NBC chime.

In Sum, a Trademark is a Source Identifier. . . .

When you hear the term trademark or think of a trademark – think source identifier. Trademarks come in many forms. Notwithstanding certain exceptions to the general rule, if “something” is capable of identifying a source of goods, that “something” is probably functioning as a trademark.

The contents of this article is meant to be for educational and informational purposes only, it should not be construed as legal advice.

EsquireTrademarks.com – Online Trademark Attorneys – What We Do:

  • Our Philadelphia copyright trademark attorney, prepares and files trademark applications for clients throughout the United States and abroad.
  • We prosecute and defend trademark infringement and unfair competition actions in the Federal Courts throughout the United States and abroad.
  • We also prosecute trademark office actions and appeals before the United States Trademark Office.
  • We handle internet based trademark disputes and trademark, DMCA, and copyright takedowns.
  • We draw on our experience as trademark litigators to guide you through the trademark process.
  • We support businesses, law firms, and individuals by providing top notch legal services in intellectual property matters.