A “service mark” enjoys all of the exact benefits and protections that a “trademark” receives under the federal trademark statutes. A Service Mark differs simply in that it is a brand or logo that is used in connection with a service, not a product. Only trademarks are used on products. For example, “Don't leave home without it” is a service mark owned by American Express which is used in connection with its financial services. In contrast, PEPSI is a trademark used in connection with a product, namely, soda. Other examples of service marks include:
a) “You Deserve a Break Today” owned by McDonald's for restaurant services;
b) Olive Garden, for retail restaurant services;
c) Oppenheimer Funds - The Right Way To Invest, for financial services;
d) EBAY, for Internet Auction Services.
When one files an application to register a service mark, one should use the “sm” symbol next to the service mark, not the “tm” symbol. The sm symbol indicates to the public that the owner of the mark is claiming common law service mark rights (limited to the owner's geographic trading territories) and is most likely in the process of obtaining a federal registration (meaning there is most likely a pending application to register the mark). Once the owner of the mark receives the federal registration certificate (where protection is expanded to all 50 states), the owner can switch from the sm symbol to the federal registration symbol ®.