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The term “trademark” is often used to refer to both trademarks and service marks. 

Trademarks do not expire after a set term of years and are used to protect words, names or symbols that identify goods or services.  Often a trademark is considered a “brand name”.  Special symbols are used to designate whether a trademark is registered or unregistered.

A service mark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than goods. 

Understanding the importance of trademarking something in order to preserve its use and integrity is important, especially if it is a key component to your business.  Filing a trademark application can be a lengthy process, be expensive, and require technical knowledge but if your business depends on its exclusive use, this step is one you don’t want to ignore.  Be wary of internet sites that offer trademarking services as fast, inexpensive or easy and before beginning, search the USPTO’s trademark database to see if any trademark has already been registered or applied for that is similar to what you are wanting to apply for. 

Since trademarks are used for identify goods and services, protecting and enforcing them are also  important.  Trademark infringement is serious and taking steps to legally notifying a party that is infringing on your trademark should be done by an attorney.  For questions related to trademarks, contact an attorney and work with them to resolve any concerns or issues you may have.