Service Marks Law and Legal Definition

A service mark is any word, name, symbol, character, or device, or any combination thereof and the distinctive feature of radio, television, or other advertising adopted and used by a person to identify services rendered or offered by him and to distinguish them from the services of others.

Service marks are entitled to the same legal protection as trademarks but are meant to distinguish services rather than products. A service mark is very similar to a trademark, except that it is used to distinguish services in the stream of commerce. Like a trademark, a service mark can include words, names, symbols and logos. Typically, trademarks appear on the actual product or its packaging, while service marks appear mostly in advertising for the services. Service marks are subject to protection from unfair use and may be registered at the state and federal levels. The person who first files a valid service mark registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has the right to its exclusive use.

The following is a federal law governing renewal of registration of marks with the USPTO:

"15 U.S.C. §1059. Renewal.

  1. Subject to the provisions of section 8, each registration may be renewed for periods of 10 years at the end of each successive 10-year period following the date of registration upon payment of the prescribed fee and the filing of a written application, in such form as may be prescribed by the Director. Such application may be made at any time within 1 year before the end of each successive 10-year period for which the registration was issued or renewed, or it may be made within a grace period of 6 months after the end of each successive 10-year period, upon payment of a fee and surcharge prescribed therefor. If any application filed under this section is deficient, the deficiency may be corrected within the time prescribed after notification of the deficiency, upon payment of a surcharge prescribed therefor.
  2. If the Director refuses to renew the registration, the Director shall notify the registrant of the Director's refusal and the reasons therefor.
  3. If the registrant is not domiciled in the United States the registrant may designate, by a document filed in the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the name and address of a person resident in the United States on whom may be served notices or process in proceedings affecting the mark. Such notices or process may be served upon the person so designated by leaving with that person or mailing to that person a copy thereof at the address specified in the last designation so filed. If the person so designated cannot be found at the address given in the last designation, or if the registrant does not designate by a document filed in the United States Patent and Trademark Office the name and address of a person resident in the United States on whom may be served notices or process in proceedings affecting the mark, such notices or process may be served on the Director."