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A trademark is a name, symbol, device or word used in trading goods to indicate the source and distinguish the goods from others. A servicemark identifies and distinguishes the source of a service, instead of a product.
Trademark rights can prevent others from using a similar mark, but cannot stop others from making the same goods or selling the same goods under a completely different mark. Trademarks can be registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and may also be registered in certain states. However, registration is not required to hold the rights to a trademark. A trademark holder can establish their rights by the use of a mark in a business or commercial setting.
When claiming trademark rights, the holder can use the "TM" (trademark) or "SM" (servicemark) designation to inform the public of the claim, regardless of whether the holder filed a trademark application. Federal trademark registration applies a "r" in a circle and actually registers a mark. The registration symbol can only be used with a trademark on or in connection with the products or services listed in the federal trademark registration.