What is a trademark, service mark and a trade name?

The distinctions between a trademark, service mark and trade name are important in understanding the functions each serves. Michigan law defines a trademark as any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof, other than a trade name in its entirety, adopted and used by a person to identify their goods and distinguish them from similar goods made or sold by others.

A service mark is defined as any word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof, other than a trade name in its entirety, adopted and used by a person in the sale or advertising of services to identify their services and distinguish them from similar services of others.

A trade name is defined as any word or group of words used by any person to identify a sole proprietorship, firm, partnership, corporation, association, union, or other organization.

Normally a trademark appears on the product or on its packaging, while a service mark appears on advertising for the services. A trade name is an actual or assumed name of a business entity, not a name for a specific product or service.