Whether you walk dogs, design software or operate a spa, chances are good that you've worked hard to develop a solid reputation for your business. A large part of that reputation is your company's name and logo. Your business name, and the services your provide under it, is part of your intellectual property. Our Service Mark Lawyers can assist you to protect and defend your service mark.
What Is a Service Mark?
A service mark is essentially a source identifier, just like a trademark. In fact, the words "service mark" and "trademark" are often used interchangeably. When a service mark appears on an advertisement, website or brochure, it is recognizable and tells consumers which individual or organization is providing that service.
A service mark may be a word, series of words, a design, a device, a symbol or any combination of these items. Whatever it may be, your service mark identifies your business and makes your services distinguishable from those of your competitor.
At a basic level, the difference between a trademark and a service mark is that a trademark is typically used on goods that are sold in commerce while a service mark identifies the supplier of a service. Many companies offer both goods and services. For instance, a software-development firm might sell its finished software as a product but may also offer customized design services for those customers who desire it. Other entrepreneurs solely provide services. As an example, a business owner who operates a mobile massage service would likely only need a service mark because they aren't selling a product.
Regardless of whether your business technically requires a service mark or a trademark, the process for protecting your intellectual property is largely the same. With the assistance of an attorney, it's possible to explore the many options that may be available to you for defending your intellectual property.
Who Needs a Service Mark Law Firm?
Why Is It Important to Have the Assistance of a Service Mark Lawyer?
While it is possible to select a name or logo and begin using it as a service mark, doing so may involve considerable risk. More than one entrepreneur has fallen in love with a service mark and then spent a great deal of time, money and effort to develop it. They don't realize anything is wrong until they get a letter from an attorney whose client is using a service mark that seems confusingly similar to theirs.
In some instances, all of that hard work and effort is quickly wiped out by this kind of letter. Some companies have been forced to find a new name or logo, and it isn't easy or cheap to conduct a massive re-branding of a company. That is why the assistance of a Service Mark Law Firm is so indispensable.
Service Mark Searches
If you have a great idea for a company name, logo or slogan, it may make a great deal of sense to make an appointment with an intellectual property attorney. They might recommend conducting a search for your chosen service mark to ensure that no one else is using the same or a very similar mark for the identicle types of services that you'll be providing. Based on the results of this service mark search you'll have a much clearer picture about whether or not a competitor is likely to object to your use of the mark.
Filing an Application for Registration
A service mark lawyer can also help you file an application to have your service mark federally registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Registering your service mark is the single best way to protect your intellectual property rights. When you have a registration, you're standing on firm ground when it comes to objecting to others using a mark that might be mistaken for yours.
Obtaining a service mark registration is usually a complex process that often requires months or perhaps even years of effort. An intellectual property attorney can not only file the initial application, but also make the necessary legal arguments and distinctions that may make the difference between obtaining a registration and being denied.
Defending Your Service Mark
Working with legal counsel is also an asset if you suspect that one of your competitors is unfairly using your mark or is adopting a mark that is too similar to yours. Service mark attorneys are adept at drafting effective cease and desist letters and are also willing to go to trial to protect your rights.
Cases involving possible service mark infringement are complex and require a great deal of legal skill to prosecute. With a service mark law firm to represent your interests, you are more likely to gain a favorable outcome.
Please contact us for more information on service marks for your business.