The Basics of Trademarks – What is a Trademark?

Trademarks and the concept of trademark protection have been in existence for literally thousands of years dating back to the days of the Roman Empire when blacksmiths would emblazon swords that they had crafted with a distinctive symbol. The trademark was affixed to the finished product to identify the originating craftsman or shop.

Trademarks have come a long way since that time and can now consist of nearly any type of identifying feature that signifies or identifies the person or company that created, sells or markets a particular product or service.

Trademarks can consist of any single or combination of identifying features including but not limited to the following:










A trademark not only serves to identify the producer or seller of a particular product or service but also serves to differentiate the item from similar products produced by a competitor. Trademarks can be owned by individuals, businesses or any other legal entity and are considered to be Intellectual Property. They also may be sold, leased or licensed to outside parties but also must be “active” to be considered protected.

Trademark protection applies to both registered and unregistered symbols, logos, designs, etc. For instance, if a company has sold a product under a distinctive brand name for a period of time without registering that name with either a national or state trademark office may still be afforded trademark protection for that name and may seek and be awarded damages for any infringement.


This article is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be construed as legal advice and readers are encouraged to consult a qualified attorney regarding these matters.

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