What is a trademark?
A trademark is a word, mark, symbol or device used by a person to identify and distinguish the source of that person’s goods and services from the goods and services of another.  For example, a trademark can be a word, a slogan, or a symbol.  Trade dress refers to distinctive product packaging, store décor, product shapes, or the look of a web page. 

How do I receive a trademark?
Trademark rights are acquired based on use of the mark in commerce.  Generally, the first user of a protectable mark in commerce acquires the exclusive right to use the mark for those goods and services in the same geographic market.  Trademark rights do not generally extend to unrelated goods and services or to remote geographic areas. 

Although trademark rights derive from use, there are benefits to obtaining a federal trademark registration through application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office .  Registration of the mark provides the rights to exclusive nationwide ownership of the mark, notice to newcomers of your trademark rights, use of the ® designation, and presumption of ownership of the mark. 

Can I use a phrase I heard on a television advertisement as a mark?
Probably not.  Since trademark rights are based on use, the company that used the phrase in the advertisement may have better rights than you.  In situations like this, it is best to consult with an attorney about your rights.

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