A trademark, often called a brand name, is a word, phrase, symbol or design used by an individual or business to identify and differentiate their goods or services from those of others. A trademark can be a word (such as Apple), a phrase (such as "Just Do It"), or even a combination of words and designs (such as the Nike swoosh).
Trademark rights are granted by law and may be registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Registration provides nationwide notice to potential competitors that the owner's mark is protected by federal registration.
What Rights Do Trademarks Give You?
Trademarks can be enforced in court to prevent other parties from using them. This is known as trademark infringement. The owner of a famous mark such as Coca-Cola® will attempt to prevent other parties from using similar marks for similar products or services that could create customer confusion. If this happens, consumers might think that the product bearing the mark is somehow endorsed by the owner of the famous mark.