Legal Dictionary


Legal Definition of trademark

Related terms

Definition of trademark


  • IPA: /ˈtreɪdmɑː(r)k/, SAMPA: /"treIdmA:(r)k/
  • Audio (US) [?]


trademark (plural trademarks)

  1. A word, symbol, or phrase used to identify a particular company's product and differentiate it from other companies' products. Indicated by the symbol ™, when registered with a government authority it is sometimes indicated by the symbol ®.
  2. Any proprietary business, product or service name.

    * 2005, Kai A. Olsen, The Internet, the Web, and eBusiness, page xv:
    Trademark Notice / The following are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies: [...] Google is a trademark of Google Corporation; eBay is a trademark of eBay, Inc.

Related terms


trademark (third-person singular simple present trademarks, present participle trademarking, simple past and past participle trademarked)

  1. To register something as a trademark.
  2. To so label a product.

Usage notes

  • Among practitioners of trademark law, it is generally considered incorrect to use “trademark” as a verb; the preferred terminology would be to use a trademark or to register a trademark.

Further reading

A trademark, trade mark, or trade-mark[1] is a distinctive sign or indicator used by an individual, business organization, or other legal entity to identify that the products or services to consumers with which the trademark appears originate from a unique source, and to distinguish its products or services from those of other entities.

A trademark may be designated by the following symbols:

  • ™ (for an unregistered trade mark, that is, a mark used to promote or brand goods)
  • <sup>SM</sup> (for an unregistered service mark, that is, a mark used to promote or brand services)
  • ® (for a registered trademark)

A trademark is typically a name, word, phrase, logo, symbol, design, image, or a combination of these elements.[2] There is also a range of non-conventional trademarks comprising marks which do not fall into these standard categories, such as those based on color, smell, or sound.

The owner of a registered trademark may commence legal proceedings for trademark infringement to prevent unauthorized use of that trademark. However, registration is not required. The owner of a common law trademark may also file suit, but an unregistered mark may be protectable only within the geographical area within which it has been used or in geographical areas into which it may be reasonably expected to expand.

The term trademark is also used informally to refer to any distinguishing attribute by which an individual is readily identified, such as the well-known characteristics of celebrities. When a trademark is used in relation to services rather than products, it may sometimes be called a service mark, particularly in the United States.[2]


Terms such as "mark", "brand" and "logo" are sometimes used interchangeably with "trademark". "Trademark", however, also includes any device, brand, label, name, signature, word, letter, numerical, shape of goods, packaging, colour or combination of colours, smell, sound, movement or any combination thereof which is capable of distinguishing goods and services of one business from those of others. It must be capable of graphical representation and must be applied to goods or services for which it is registered.

Specialized types of trademark include certification marks, collective trademarks and defensive trademarks. A trademark which is popularly used to describe a product or service (rather than to distinguish the product or services from those of third parties) is sometimes known as a genericized trademark. If such a mark becomes synonymous with that product or service to the extent that the trademark owner can no longer enforce its proprietary rights, the mark becomes generic.


  1. The styling of trademark as a single word is predominantly used in the United States and Philippines only, while the two-word styling trade mark is used in many other countries around the world, including the European Union and Commonwealth and ex-Commonwealth jurisdictions (although Canada officially uses trade-mark pursuant to the Trade-mark Act, trade mark and trademark are also commonly used).
  2. Restatement (Third) of Unfair Competition § 9 (1995)


  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.


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