Trademarks may be registered with the USPTO or in individual states. Registration is not mandatory because protection begins as soon as a person begins using a mark in association with a good or service. However, registration does provide several advantages that will be discussed later in the course.
Registration with the USPTO is also desirable if a party intends to use a mark with a good or service, but has not actually done so to date.
The USPTO categorizes marks into four different groups: trademarks; service marks; certification marks; and collective marks.
Trademarks protect words, names, symbols, sounds, or colors that distinguish goods and services from those manufactured or sold by others and to indicate the source of the goods.
A service mark is the same as a trademark except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product.
A certification mark is any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination, used, or intended to be used, in commerce by someone other than its owner, to certify regional or other origin, material, mode of manufacture, quality, accuracy, or other characteristics of such person’s goods or services, or that the work or labor on the goods or services was performed by members of a union or other organization.
A collective mark is a trademark or service mark used, or intended to be used, in commerce, by the members of a cooperative, an association, or other collective group or organization, including a mark that indicates membership in a union, an association, or other organization.