trademark, distinctive mark placed on or attached to goods by a manufacturer or dealer to identify them as made or sold by that particular firm or person. The use of a trademark indicates that the maker or dealer believes that the quality of the goods will enhance his or her standing or goodwill, and a known trademark indicates to a buyer the reputation that is staked on the goods. Registration of a trademark is necessary in some countries to give exclusive right to it. In the United States, Canada, and Great Britain, the sufficient use of a trademark not previously used establishes exclusive right to it, but registration is provided as an aid in defending that right. In the United States trademarks are registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Internationally, trademark registration is facilitated by the World Intellectual Property Organization, under the Madrid Protocol. Imitations of a trademark wrong both the owner of the trademark and the buyer, who is misled as to the source of goods, and such infringements of a trademark are punishable by law. Service marks, which are used on services (such as insurance or brokerages) rather than on products, are also covered by trademark laws.
See M. Wright, Inventions, Patents, and Trade-marks (2d ed. 1933); P. Meinhardt and K. Havelock, Concise Trade Mark Law and Practice (1983).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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