Difference between a Trademark and Service Mark

A Trademark is a word, name, symbol, device, or any combination of those used by a person to identify and distinguish the GOODS of that person from those manufactured or sold by others and to indicate the source of the goods, even if that source is unknown.

A Service Mark is a word, name, symbol, or device, or any combination of those used by a person to identify and distinguish the SERVICES of one person from the services of others and to indicate the source of the services, even if that source is unknown.  A service mark differs from a trademark in that a service mark is used for the advertising of services rather than on the packaging or delivery of the service.  When registering a service mark, use the same form as when registering a trademark.

Duration of a Trademark or Service Mark

The duration of a “Registration of Mark” is five years from the date of registration. A mark may be renewed an additional five years by filing a “Renewal of Mark” within 6 months of the expiration of the registration or renewal.

Specimen of a Mark

State law requires that three specimens accompany the application for registration. The specimens may consist of samples or photocopies representing how the mark is being used in conjunction with the goods or service. The three specimens may be identical if there is only one way in which the mark is being used.

Trademark or Service Mark filed in Montana

A Mark filed with the Secretary of State’s office is effective only for the State of Montana and does not protect your mark from a mark that was federally filed or copyrighted. When a mark is registered with the Secretary of State’s office, it must be in use within the state. Prior to registering your mark, we recommend you check with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to determine if another entity has registered a similar mark.

Trademarking your Business Name

A business name is not generally eligible for registration as a mark, except when the name is used for advertising or placed on goods. If you are considering registering your business name as a mark, we recommend you consult an attorney to determine if that is the best course of action.

Trademark – Words/Letters Only versus Design

Your registration form must include a clear representation of the mark you want to register. There are two available formats when registering your mark: (1) “words only” format; or (2) “stylized or design” format.  The “words only” format is used when registering words, letters, numbers, or a combination without claim to any font, size, or color and is absent of any design element. Your three specimens for this type of trademark registration would not include a design.  The “stylized or design” format is a mark with a design and/or words and/or letters having a particular stylized appearance that you are desiring to protect. Your three specimens for this mark must include the design.

Trademark Symbol

A Trademark symbol (see example below) may only be used if you registered your mark federally.


Information listed below will assist you to federally register a patent, trademark, or copyright.

Patent Depository

Patent and Trademark Resource Center

(800) 786-9199

Patents, national trademarks

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

(800) 786-9199


U.S. Copyright Office

(877) 476-0778