When I first started playing baseball at the age of 5, my coach started with the basics.  Sure, I saw plenty of games on TV, but playing and watching require two different skill sets.  Want to play on the trademark field?  Then it’s best to start with some fundamentals!

A trademark is any word, symbol, design, tagline, or logo that is used in association with goods or services to identify and distinguish the products of one company from those of another.   In business parlance, a trademark is also known as a “brand name.”

Examples of trademarks include McDonald’s®, the Nike® “swoosh” design and Just do it® slogan, and the Coca-Cola® bottle design.

A service mark is a trademark that is used in connection with services, as opposed to goods.  An example of a service mark is FEDEX® for ground and air shipping and transportation services.

Trade dress is the protectable look and feel of a product shape, or in the case of restaurants and stores, the elements of their layout and design that are proprietary.  An example of protectable trade dress is a unique perfume bottle shape.

Take-Away:  Trademarks are a vital part of any brand and marketing positioning strategy. What’s in a name? Perhaps your entire competitive advantage!