A trademark is any name, word, phrase, design, color, smell, or sound used to distinguish one’s goods from those of their competitors.
A service mark is a similar mark used in connection with the services rendered by an owner of the mark.
In general, there are four types of marks: generic, descriptive, suggestive, and arbitrary. Examples are as follows:
Generic – “aspirin” for acetylsalicylic acid and “escalator” for moving stairs (both were at one time registered trademarks);
Descriptive – “Speedy” for fast modems for computers;
Suggestive – “Brilliant” for floor polish;
Arbitrary – “Speedy” for gemstones.
Marks which are suggestive or arbitrary are typically registerable, absent some other potential defect or conflict.
Marks which are descriptive may be registered if they have become distinctive of an applicant’s goods (usually, a declaration is needed to prove this to the trademark examiner, and sometimes survey evidence is necessary).
Generic marks are not registerable, and if registered, the registration may be cancelled.