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; and
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.
Although all of our attorneys are registered patent attorneys, we are also trademark attorneys and we all have experience in trademark matters.
To search trademarks registered in the US Patent and Trademark Office, go here:
United States Patent and Trademark Office Trademarks Database
Basic is the easiest method to search, although clicking on HELP to find out more specific methods can be useful for more advanced searching.
To search trademarks registered internationally, go here:
WIPO Global Brand Database
Search by Brand Name (Trademark)