Ever heard the term “Service Mark?” It’s likely that you’ve heard of a “trademark” before, and you’ve probably seen a “TM” symbol on logos or business names out and about. But what about that strange “SM” symbol you may have come across? You guessed it–SM refers to service mark. The difference between the two? Technically, there is not much of a difference…they’re both trademarks.

The small differences:  The term “service mark” and the “SM” symbol refer to a trademark that is used for services, versus a “trademark” or “TM” that is used for products and goods. The two terms can often be used interchangeably; you can also use “trademark” to refer to a mark that is used for services. A service mark is a trademark, but a trademark is not always a service mark. If you say “trademark,” it is not automatically assumed that you’re selling a product. It can also include services. However, if you say “service mark,” it is implied that you’re selling a service.

But frankly, nobody really cares. The USPTO isn’t going to ask if your mark is a trademark or service mark. Your rights won’t be affected if you accidentally refer to it as a trademark rather than a service mark. If you’re trying to decide which is more fitting to use for your business, you can always default to using the “TM” symbol. It’s all the same. And of course, if you have a federally registered trademark, you get the added benefit of using the ® symbol, which means it’s “registered.”

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