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Glossary of Definitions

What is intellectual property?

Intellectual property includes patents, trademarks, copyrights, and proprietary secrets. The term was coined to distinguish this class of intangible property and the highly specialized laws that govern it from other tangible forms of property such as land, buildings and equipment.

What is a trademark?

A trademark is any word, name, slogan, symbol, or design (or any combination of those) used by a person or entity to identify and distinguish its goods from those of others. Trademarks serve as symbols that identify the source of the products associated with the mark. Trademarks are valuable company assets.


    Xerox - brand of photocopiers
    Coca-Cola - brand of carbonated soft drink
    Kodak - brand of photographic film and cameras
    Coppertone - brand of sun tan oil

What is a service mark?

A service mark is used to identify and distinguish one's services from those of others. Service marks serve as symbols that identify the source of the services associated with the mark. Service marks are valuable company assets.


United Airlines - service mark for air transportation
McDonald's - brand of fast food service
Blockbuster - brand of video rental service
What is a trade name?

A trade name identifies the name of a company. A trade name can also be used as a trademark to distinguish the company's products or services from those of other companies.

What does ® mean?

The appearance of an "®" at the end of a word or phrase denotes that the mark is federally registered at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Infringement of such a mark may entitle the holder of the mark to receive damages in a federal trademark infringement case.

What do TM and SM mean?

These symbols are used to claim ownership of any trademark (TM) or service mark (SM) that has not been officially placed on the Principal Register or Supplemental Register with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Using this symbol gives notice to potential infringers that the owner claims trademark right in that commercial name.

Using "TM" or "SM" provides no statutory legal benefits but it makes it difficult, if not impossible, for an infringer to claim lack of knowledge of a trademark claim.

What laws apply to trademarks in the United States?

Trademarks may be protected under either the federal statute known as the Lanham Act, state common law, or both.

What is the PTO?

The PTO is the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.


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This Site contains information about the famous Bell mark and Bell Symbol logo. The Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs) - Ameritech Corporation, Verizon Communications Inc., BellSouth Corporation, Cincinnati Bell, Inc., SBC Communications Inc., Southern New England Telephone Company, and Qwest Communications International, Inc. - maintain this Site for your personal information, education, and entertainment. You may not distribute, modify, transmit, reuse, repost, or use the content of the site for public or commercial purposes, including the text, images, audio, and video without the proper RBOC's written permission.