Service Mark

Definition

A mark used to distinguish the services provided by one person or company from services provided by others.  Service marks serve the same purposes as trademarks, but they are used to identify services rather than goods.

Overview

A "service mark" is a type of trademark protected and regulated under the Lanham Act.  Service marks are used to identify and distinguish the services of one individual or organization, even a unique service, from those provided by others.  See 15 U.S.C. § 1127.  Service marks and trademarks serve essentially the same purpose and function in essentially the same manner except that service marks identify the source of services rather than goods.  The term "service" applies only to services rendered to others; it does not apply to services that are solely for the benefit of the performer.   

The Lanham Act provides that "titles, character names, and other distinctive features of radio and television programs may be registered as service marks notwithstanding that they, or the programs, may advertise the goods of the sponsor."  See 15 U.S.C. § 1127.  The same mark may be registered as both a trademark and a service mark unless the services rendered are too closely related, e.g., expected or routine, in connection with the sale of trademarked goods. See In re Dr. Pepper Co., 836 F.2d 508 (Fed. Cir. 1987).