Trademark vs. service mark? What’s the difference? Both are issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office to distinguish a brand’s products and services from those of other businesses. Trademarks distinguish a company’s products, whereas a service mark relates to the services a company provides. Both fall under the category of intellectual property.
Why Apply for a Trademark or Service Mark?
When you’re building a brand, it’s important to differentiate yourself from your competition. Moreover, the last thing you want is for another company to hijack your company name or logo and confuse customers about with whom they’re doing business.
Registering for a trademark or service mark helps prevent that from happening.
The Difference: Trademarks vs. Service Marks
Preventing confusion in the marketplace is the primary purpose of both trademarks and service marks. To obtain either, you must apply with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
What Is a Trademark?
A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, or design (such as a business name or logo) that identifies the source of a product. Trademarks are often recognized as brand names, and they protect the owners of their marks from other businesses in the U.S. using those marks.
Some companies trademark multiple elements of their brand, such as their business names, logos, and slogans. For example, Nike has trademarks on its brand name, its swoosh logo, and its tagline, “Just Do It.”
What is a Service Mark?
Service marks are similar to trademarks, and sometimes you’ll hear people use the term “trademark” when they really mean “service mark.” A service mark distinguishes the services of one company from those of another service provider.
Several examples of well-known service marks include:
- American Airlines
- Holiday Inn
Often, service marks take the form of a slogan or tagline, such as the United Airlines’ phrase “Fly the Friendly Skies.”
Whether a company needs a trademark or service mark can get confusing. For example with Burger King, the company provides a service, but it sells products (like the Whopper). Therefore, many companies register for both trademarks and service marks to protect their brand assets.
What Are the Benefits of Registering for a Trademark or Service Mark?
Filing trademarks and service marks prevent other businesses from using a business’s company, product, and service names; brand slogans; logos; and other distinguishing brand designs.
Relative to a company’s business name, a trademark or service mark offers more extensive protection than only registering the name with the state. While an LLC or corporation receives some protection of its brand name in the state in which it is registered, a trademark or service mark offers protection across all 50 of the United States. With a trademark or service mark, a business gains peace of mind that others won’t copy their branding at both the state and federal level.
How To Apply for a Trademark or Service Mark
The process to register for a trademark or service mark through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office isn’t complicated, but it’s important to complete the application accurately so that it’s not rejected.
Before applying for a trademark or service mark, it’s wise to do some research to make sure another business hasn’t filed for (or is already under) trademark or service mark protection using the same or a very similar mark.
CorpNet’s free basic trademark search tool can help with that, and from there, I suggest doing a comprehensive name search at the state and county level to make sure your desired mark is not already taken.
I also encourage you to enlist the help and expertise of an intellectual property attorney that can offer legal advice as you go through the process.
“TM” and “SM” and ®
Before a company has had its trademark or service mark approved by the USPTO, it can use the designations of either “TM” or “SM” after the name, phrase, or design it wants to protect.
TM and SM show that the company is claiming the wording or symbol as its own, and it can help deter other businesses from using that intellectual property while the USPTO reviews a trademark or service mark request. The ® symbol designates a trademark or service mark that has been registered with and approved by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The ® symbol identifies a company has an official legal protection of its mark.
When to Apply for a Trademark or Service Mark
A company can take action to help protect its business name, even if it hasn’t yet started selling its products or services.
By filing an “intent to use” (Allegation of Use) form with the USPTO, a company can reserve a trademark or service mark.
An advantage of filing the intent to use application is that it regards the filing date as the “constructive use” date for establishing the business’s rights to the mark. So, if a company files an intent to use application on August 20, and another company files an actual use application on August 24. Even if the first company doesn’t file for actual use and begin to use its mark in commerce until after August 24, that company would be granted the trademark or service mark protection.
The USPTO gives companies six months to file an actual use application after they submit an intent to use application. It also allows six-month extensions to be filed up to 5 times after an initial intent to use application is submitted.
Cost of Registering a Trademark or Service Mark
The cost varies—between $225 and $400 per class to apply for a trademark or service mark—depending on how a business opts to apply for its trademark or service mark. The USPTO offers three initial application options.
If you choose to have an attorney or other party prepare and submit your application for you, you’ll incur some additional expense, as well.
After receiving an application, the USPTO sends a receipt to confirm the filing date. It might take from nine to 12 months for the USPTO to process a trademark or service mark request. When marks are complicated or if issues or conflicts arise during the review process, the USPTO might require more time before approving or rejecting a request.
Length of Time a Trademark or Service Mark Protection Lasts
Once approved, a trademark or service mark is in effect for ten years—and it can then be renewed for another ten years, with no limit on subsequent ten-year terms. As long as all renewal requirements are fulfilled, a business’s trademark or service mark will have an unlimited lifespan.
How to Be Pitch Perfect
Ready to get your pitch on, but not sure what you should say? Pitching Your Brand
While there is a definite art to pitching, it doesn’t have to be an intimidating (or impossible) task.
Rather, your job is to figure out how to position your brand, product, or service so that the value to your target audience is highlighted.
Dos and don’ts Pitching Your Brand
If you are aiming to reach a budget-conscious shopper, tailor your approach to focus on the value and durability of your offering.
If your focus is higher-end, draw your target customer’s attention to the fact that the product is hand-sewn and can be ordered in luxurious cashmere.
Are you eco-friendly? Then mention that your product is organic cotton and that 10 percent of proceeds are donated to an Earth-friendly charity.
Make it easy for your target customer—or a member of the media—to see exactly how your product, service, or story will apply directly to them.
Then, especially if you are pitching your story to the media, give them easy access to information, images, and quotes so that writing an article featuring your brand is enjoyable and easy to write.
Make sure to never send the exact same pitch to all your media contacts. Just as you would like every person on your outreach list to take the time to reach your pitch, they also would like you to take the time to know who they are, what interests them, and what their name is
Also, be careful with copy and pasting or making small adjustments to multiple pitches, as many email programs will alter the color and font of forwarded messages. Anyone in 2018 knows that if this is the case, you’ve copy and pasted without a second thought to what you were doing.
If you are sending out a general update all at once, make sure to blind-copy everyone’s email address. It is incredibly sloppy to share contact details for multiple people or media outlets by mass pitching on the To: line.
No matter your target audience, here are some ideas to kick-start your creativity and begin to develop multiple pitch angles for media:
- Connect your product to a current trend.
- Show a celebrity in a look that is similar to yours.
- Create a visual that connects your product to an upcoming or iconic film.
- Pitch how different versions of your product are perfect for traveling, business, gifts.
- Show your product as the perfect accessory for an event, like a music festival, first date, or wedding.
- Watch the red carpet at award shows and pitch how to get one or two looks for less.
- Create your own gift guide tailored to a certain publication or demographic.
Pitch takeaways Pitching Your Brand
In the health, fitness, food/beverage, and lifestyle industries, most companies are interested in product placement.
This means having specifics products photographed by the magazine and/or used in an editorial spread.
It’s important to note, however, that there are multiple angles that go beyond just the product itself when trying to place it. Examine the different kinds of angles that could be written about your offering.
Remember, even at the most basic level, there’s always a business and brand story to tell.
When pitching a story, focus on what makes yours unique. What makes your brand newsworthy?
How does your brand tie into current events or seasonal trends?
Finally, rely on your collateral pieces and product photography to do the heavy lifting around product placement for you.
Ready to get started? Put your best pitch forward by downloading these helpful pitch scripts.
Trust the process Pitching Your Brand
It might seem nerve-wracking, but there is a time-honored tradition of back and forth among the person doing the pitching and the one accepting the pitches that leads to what we read in magazines and watch on The Today Show.
Simply put, the media knows why you’re calling (or emailing— when in doubt—assume you should always email first).
Remember that your job is to make the editor’s lives easier.
They have a story to write, and you have the information they need to write the story. They need a pair of boots like those Beyoncé wore last Saturday night, and you’ve got them.
The media’s job is not, and never will be, to make you famous or to get people to buy your shoes, however. Approach your outreach from that perspective, and you will increase your chances of becoming a media darling.
These days media outlets are more pressed for time than ever before, and it’s amazing how often parts of your email pitch will make it into the actual article.
Use this to your advantage.
Write the pitch you want to read about your brand! Emulate the tone of the magazine in your pitch and focus the information on what is most relevant to that publication.
For a celebrity weekly, do your best Gossip Girl impression. For a business publication, lead with statistics or quotes that demonstrate thought leadership from your CEO.
If you are struggling, pretend you had to describe the magazine to a friend, or even your grandmother. Notice what words you are using, and incorporate those into your pitcharticle by KJ Greenwood
6 Reasons Doing Your Own Marketing is Hurting Your Business
We can’t all be great at everything, that includes trying to do our own marketing.
As a small business owner myself, I can say that I spend a great deal of time on social media. I run a digital marketing company and I often hire help from those who are experts on certain things. Does that surprise you? A digital marketing professional hires people to help with digital marketing? It shouldn’t.
The world that has led us to believe that we should all be Renaissance humans who can juggle the balls of the world in one hand. While technically we can try, it is not always the right decision as a business owner. Sure most of us can use Facebook, we can Tweet on Twitter, and we have a LinkedIn profile we sometimes check. We build marketing materials using the tools we have available to us. We have flyers printed and postcards made. We even stick our fingers into online advertising. Sometimes it leads to qualified leads. Trying to do your own marketing is a ball you need not juggle. In fact, you are more likely to drop all the balls you have in the air when you try and take on too much yourself.
The problem is, as a business owner you only have so much time in a day. That time is precious. The MOST important thing that only you can do to grow your business is to use your time wisely. That is why sometimes I rely on my team of experts in different arenas of digital marketing. Even among marketing professionals, we all have our strengths and weaknesses. Knowing what you are good at is half the battle, letting go of it is the rest.
Here are some good reasons to have someone else help you with your marketing.
1. DON’T MAKE THINGS WORSE
Believe it or not, you can actually make things worse. The point of online marketing is to bring traffic to your website. Unless you sell your product or service on Facebook your goal should be to get people to your website. Your marketing strategy should engage your audience and directing them to the thing that you want them to do. It should also work with the search engine to help you organically find the people who are going to buy from you. SEO must be part of your digital marketing strategy. If you are not thinking about SEO with every post, you should. So if you are not generating sales, chances are you not only have you been wasting your own tme, but sales. You are essentially throwing spaghetti at a wall and hoping something sticks.
2. MAKE THE BEST USE OF YOUR MONEY
Business owners often feel that handling your own online marketing is a good way to save money. That is not always the case. Often opposite is often true. Great marketing professionals help clients get the most bang for their buck. We live sleep and eat marketing all day long for many different companies. We see what works, what doesn’t and it is our JOB to know that.
When you try and do marketing yourself it is like trying to build a house when you don’t even have the right tools. Imagine taking a hammer and a saw and building the house yourself. It will take you longer, you will do it wrong more often than right. Without a guide, you might not even realize where you took a wrong turn until the entire house falls in. If you don’t construct the base of your house correctly it won’t matter what you put on top of it, it will always fail. You have to start with the end in mind.
3. YOUR TIME TO LEARN THE TOOLS YOU NEED WILL NOT HELP YOU GROW YOUR BUSINESS
Online marketing isn’t as easy. There is a strategy involved for each business. Good marketing must have goals. You need to know how all the piece and parts work together. It is also imporant to be able to identify objectives and develop campaigns that have measurable ROI. There are a lot of moving parts, like on the back of a clock that all have to work together for the time to be right.
By outsourcing your marketing to someone who knows all the pieces fo the puzzle. Hiring someone knowledgable allows you to spend your time on your business. It is really easy to get lost in learning marketing, only to realize that it is constantly changing. Spend your time with your customers and clients, sell the things that only you can do.
4. HIRING PROFESSIONALS MEANS YOU CAN HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE FOR SUCCESS
When it comes to marketing your business it should not be a guessing game. Done right it can bring a lot of traffic to your website and social media and your business. Marketing professionals play in the sandbox with all the latest tools. It is their job to keep up with the latest trends. When it is not what you do, you don’t always know what you are NOT doing. Marketing is tactical. It should never be a guessing game.
5. YOUR ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT IS NOT GOING TO BE A MARKETING EXPERT
It is amazing how often I find a company has asked their administrative team to do their marketing for them. It is like asking your accounting person to do your hiring. Let’s say you hire someone that may have “marketing experience.” It doesn’t mean that they know how to market your business. They may have some experience posting things to social media. That doesn’t mean that they are posting the right things, at the right time for the right reason. It is tactile, it is strategic, and done correctly it can add enormous value to your business. It can also be a huge time sucker on your staff when they do not know what they are doing. How much is it costing your business in man hours? Is that the best use of your time?
6. WHEN YOU OUTSOURCE YOUR MARKETING YOU GET A TEAM OF PROFESSIONAL AT A FRACTION OF THE COST
A typical marketing position within a company can start at 30-45k a year. When you add sick time, benefits, and vacation it can be a major expense for any business. That entry level person may be fresh out of school, or have a few years of experience with one company under their belt. While they may be great at some things, they don’t have decades of experience.
When you outsource your marketing needs, you tend to get much more for your money. Not only do they tend to be more qualified, outsourcing usually costs much less. A good marketing company will be your best alley to be successful in your business footprint.
Let’s face it, if they don’t prove their worth, they are gone.article by Elizabeth Orley