Service Mark Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Service Mark, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Service Mark?

Protecting a symbol or phrase that a company that provides services uses to identify themselves. Refer to the definition for trademark.

History and Meaning of Service Mark

A service mark, also known as a service mark symbol, is a legal term that represents a unique symbol, name, word, or phrase used to distinguish one company's services from another. Service marks are an essential aspect of brand identity, as they help businesses develop a unique identity and establish their reputation in the market.

In 1946, the Lanham Act was passed, which protected not only trademarks but service marks as well. According to this act, a company can only register a service mark for the services it provides, and it cannot register it for goods. Apart from registering a service mark, a business can also establish common law rights in their unique logo, as long as it is used consistently.

Examples of Service Mark

Here are some examples of service marks:

  1. The golden arches of McDonald's or the slogan “I’m Lovin’ it” are both McDonald's service marks.
  2. The blue and white bird on Twitter or the company's name in the Twitter logo are both examples of the company's service mark.
  3. The Nike "swoosh" logo is the company’s service mark.
  4. The green and white mermaid on Starbucks' cups or the name of the company on the cups are both examples of the company's service mark.
  5. The red and white KFC logo featuring the Colonel is a service mark for the fast-food chain.

Legal Terms Similar to Service Mark

Here are some related legal terms:

  1. Trademark: A trademark is similar to a service mark but used to protect a particular product or goods.
  2. Intellectual Property (IP): IP refers to intangible creations of the human intellect, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, designs, and symbols.
  3. Brand: A brand is an image or name that identifies and distinguishes a product or service from others.
  4. Copyright: Copyright is a legal term used to protect original works of authorship, including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works.
  5. Patents: Patents are legal rights granted to inventors for new and useful inventions.