The Definition of a Trademark
A trademark functions as an indicator of source for a good or a service. That is, it can be a word, a logo, a slogan, a sound, a color, product packaging, or a product configuration that, when attached to a good or service, allows for a consumer to identify the source (i.e., the company, business, organization, originator) of the good or service.
A word mark, for example, XEROX, APPLE, COKE, FORD.
A logo mark, may be, for example this logo mark:
A slogan trademark may be, for example “We keep you road ready” for an automotive repair shop, or the USPS slogan of “we deliver for you”.
An example of a sound trademark can be the chimes of the NBC television channel jingle, or the DING! of Southwest’s commercials.
An example of a color trade can be the pink color of Owens Corning fiberglass insulation.
An example of a product packaging can be the distinctive bottle design of Coca-Cola or the French fry container for a McDonald’s large fry.
An example of product configurations can be the protected product configuration of the Hershey chocolate bar.
Each one of these performs a function to act as an indicator of source of the owner. In each case, while the medium is different, or the appearance is different, there is certainly an impression on a consumer that when they see, hear or say one of these, there is a connection to a source of the products and services.
And there are thousands of examples of each one of these types of trademarks.
Also, each of these trademarks is connected to one or more goods and/or services. That is, the trademark does not exist in a vacuum and reserved for any use. Rather, a trademark is connected with particular goods and services of the owner.
As trademarks become more famous, their zone of exclusion can grow. For example, it is very difficult to think that the term Apple can be used for many things without triggering an accusation from Apple. This is because the Apple mark has become quite famous.
On the other hand, the same trademark may be utilized for different services by different owners where there is little chance of any confusion. For example, there are a number of trademarks that may be the same, but in vastly different services or goods. The same mark Equal has a number of different registrations owned by different owners in vastly different goods and services. And, all can peacefully co-exist.