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Trademarks and Service Marks - What's the Difference?

Updated: Feb 24, 2022

Trademark and Service Mark - are they the Same?

By definition - Yes! Section 45 of the Lanham Act defines a trademark as:

any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof -

1. used by a person, or

2. which a person has a bona fide intention to use in commerce and applies to register on the principal register.......

to identify and distinguish his or her goods.

The federal definition of a Service Mark is similar, substituting "services" where appropriate.

This is good news! One less definition to learn. However, a Trademark and Service Mark had different and distinct uses.

A business may only need a Trademark. A business may only need a Service Mark. A business may need both a Trademark and Service Mark.

When to Use a Trademark and Service Mark


A Trademark is used when a business sells goods such as clothing, food, phones, computers, etc.

Service Mark

A Service Mark is used when a business provides a service.

How to determine if a business sells goods or provides a service?

Let's look at a few examples.