A trademark is a sign that distinguishes the goods or services of one company from those of another. Trademark registration confers an exclusive right (~ 10 years) to the holder to use the registered trademark. Examples of trademarks are the name (or word mark) “”Coca-cola””; and the logo for Coca-Cola (which is the distinctive italicised script), which can also be associated with colours (pantones), in the case of Coca-cola, red!
When a trademark is registered, the distinctive ® sign is placed next to the registered trademark. Prior to registration by the relevant authority, the holder of the trademark may use the distinctive ™ sign next to the trademark. This will alert other parties of the trademark and deter possible infringement of the mark.
Trademarks are a useful form of IP when one is trying to develop a brand around a product in the company. If the brand becomes well recognised (goodwill), it could be sold or licensed for an attractive fee (together with the rights to the product to which the trademark is attached). It becomes a quantifiable asset in the company’s balance sheet and increases the value of the company.