A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs used by manufacturers to identify their own goods and distinguish them from others. It not only identifies the source of a product, but it also assigns responsibility for the quality of the product.
Legally, any manufacturer who uses a symbol as a trademark can prohibit other manufacturers from using a mark similar to theirs. The most significant criterion to obtaining a trademark is that the symbol is not so close to another trademark as to confuse a customer.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office requires that a symbol can be registered as a trademark only when the goods or services identified by the mark have actually been sold.
The seller can then submit an application for trademark registration, which will be examined by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to see if it meets all conditions of federal law. Once the application is approved, the trademark is published in an Official Gazette to allow for any objections. If trademark rights are granted, it remains in effect for 10 years and may be renewed at 10 year intervals for as long as the trademark is in use.