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What is a trademark?

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) defines a trademark as, “a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.”  A trademark is not a copyright or patent.  A trademark does not need to be registered, but it may be at the state or federal level.

In other words, a trademark is something unique that indicates where a product/service comes from.

What are some examples of a trademark?

Trademarks can be displayed in many different forms. In the bullet-point list below, a type of trademark has been paired with a Boise State example. Please note that these are not the only University trademarks.

    • Word (Boise State)
    • Phrase (Go Broncos)
    • Symbol (University B Logo)
    • Design (Buster Bronco)
    • Sound (Fight Song)
    • Smell
    • Color (Blue and Orange)
    • Group of letters or numbers (BSU)

A trademark can also be displayed as a combination of the above.

How are these trademarks protected?

The University names, initials, logos, symbols, indicia, insignia, trade names, service marks, and trademarks (collectively “Trademarks”), are trademarks protected by federal law either by federal trademark registrations or through common law use.

A design that could create confusion due to similarity to University’s Trademarks may be an infringement on the University’s trademark rights. The University has delegated the responsibility for maintaining, managing, licensing and protecting the University Trademarks to the Director of Trademark Licensing and Enforcement under the direction of the University General Counsel.

Do trademarks, copyrights and patents protect the same things?

No. Trademarks, copyrights and patents are all different.

    • A copyright protects an original artistic or literary work
    • A patent protects an invention. (For further information, please see the University’s Intellectual Property Policy).
    • A trademark may also, in some instances, be protected by copyright and trademark law.