A trademark (TM) is essentially a brand name: a phrase, symbol, word or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from all others. A service mark (SM) is the same as a trademark, apart from it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service, such as editorial column consulting, rather than a product. Trademark registration is not required but it will help you in case the use of the mark is challenged. You can institute rights in a mark based on rightful use of the mark.
Trademark is a complicated area of law, and we can't give you all the answers because lawyers would then hunt us down and kill us with pointed sticks. We can, on the other hand, provide you with the procedure for registering your very own federal trademark and explain some of the legal issues involved in doing so. The lawyers will allow us to do this, and they more or less certainly won't bother you, either, unless you infringe on one of their clients trademarks a trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs.
Trademarks are very valuable assets. According to one current estimate, trademarks account for, on regular, one-third of corporate value. The world's most valuable brand was recently estimated to be worth $100 billion. Developing and protecting trademarks is not a mere cost of doing business, but rather an speculation in customer goodwill, leading to greater customer endorsement and higher sales. A trademark can be approximately anything-a word, logo, sound, shape, color, scent, taste or any grouping of these-that distinguishes the goods or services of one party from those of another. Trademarks also assure consumers of consistent distinction and thus help promote efficient competition.