Trademarks are categorized by their distinctiveness or, in other words, their relative ability to distinguish your particular products and services from those offered by your competitors. The more distinctive your name is, the broader scope of trademark protection it receives and the easier it is for you to secure a US trademark registration issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
It has been my experience over the years that people are generally confused about the differences between trademarks, copyrights, and patents. Although all of them are extremely valuable forms of intellectual property, they are completely distinct from one another and serve very different purposes.
What is a trademark? Well, a trademark typically refers to a word, phrase, logo, symbol, or character (or combination thereof) that’s used in connection with the advertising and sale of products and services, and that serve to indicate the source of those products and services. Some very famous trademarks include DISNEY, MCDONALD’S, COCA-COLA, MICROSOFT, and JUST DO IT. These trademarks are often used in association with different fonts or logos, which are also separate trademarks. For instance, MCDONALD’S is commonly seen with the “golden arches” logo, while JUST DO IT is often used next to the famous Nike “swoosh.”