A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. A service mark is a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than goods. The term "trademark" is often used to refer to both trademarks and service marks. Trademark law protects consumers from confusion as to the source of goods and services.
A common law trademark is a trademark that is used in commerce without registration at the state or federal level. State or federal registration is not required to establish rights in a trademark. Common law trademark rights arise, or vest, from actual use of a trademark, and may allow the common law trademark owner the ability to successfully challenge a registration application and the ability to pursue a trademark infringement lawsuit against the user of a trademark by a second comer that is likely to cause consumer confusion as to the source of the goods or services provided by the common law trademark owner.
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