What is a Service Mark?

Definition: A service mark is a legally registered symbol that identifies a particular service. In other words, it is a distinctive sign that is attached to a given service.

What Does Service Mark Mean?

A service mark is a graphic, audio or written sign displayed to identify a service. They are similar to a trademark to the extent that they have a legal status and protection whenever they are registered; but, service marks are different from trademarks because they represent a service, not a product. Service marks can be registered at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and they will be identified by having a ® right next to them. Service marks are different from brands because of their legal status.

A service mark is a registered brand attached to a service. The whole purpose of a service mark is to differentiate one service from other similar ones, by using a service mark, the company can start building that mark by attaching elements and experiences that position the mark (the registered brand) positively in the mind of potential customers. Service marks can have different reaches, for example, a company can register the name of the service or a catchy phrase used to promote it, or maybe they can register a graphic distinction used for the service.

Here’s an illustration.


Deluxe Aviation LLC is an airline that provides flights from Europe to the US. The company is currently launching a service for VIP customers. This service aims to enhance the flight experience for a particular client’s segment. The name of the service is First Care®, the service has a marketing phrase that will be used for advertising purposes. The phrase goes “First care, cause we care”. What would be the service mark in this example?

According to our concept, a service mark is a legally registered symbol that identifies a service, this marks can be recognized by having an ® right next to them. This means that the service mark in this example would be First Care®.

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