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December 1, 2002

If you are confused as to how a service mark differs from a trademark or whether you should copyright or trademark your band's logo, read on to learn about the distinctions between these types of rights.


You are probably familiar with copyright as it pertains to a piece of music, but any original artistic or literary work, such as a musical work, a book, or a painting, may be copyrighted. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) does not grant copyrights. They are covered by the Library of Congress (tel. 202-707-5959; Web However, a logo that is an original work of art incorporating a band's name is copyrightable, so you may obtain both a copyright and a trademark for it.


A trademark is any word, name, or symbol — or any combination of those — used to identify the source of goods in the marketplace. The PTO further specifies that the purpose of a trademark is to identify and distinguish one seller of goods from another.

Service mark

A service mark is the same as a trademark, except that it identifies a source of services, rather than a source of goods. For example, a service mark would apply to the name of your band in connection with your services, such as gigs, whereas the trademark would apply to your band name as it appears on your CD and any other band merchandise. According to the PTO, “Normally, a mark for goods [a trademark] appears on the product or on its packaging, while a service mark appears in advertising for the services.”

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