The difference between a mark and a trademark, explained!

When I study “trademarks,” I often see the word “mark.”
How is a “mark” different from a “trademark”? What does “mark” mean?
A review of the Trademark Law will help you understand the definition of each term.
A “mark” is simply a “mark.

This article explains the meaning of “trademark” and “mark” and the differences between them.

For definitions, check Chapter I “General Provisions” of the Trademark Law.

The definitions of the words “mark” and “trademark” and their respective terms can be found in the article of the Trademark Law.

What is a “Trademark”?

Check the Article 2 of the Trademark Law. There, the definition of “trademark” is provided.

Briefly, the definition of a trademark is as follows;

  1. a character, figure, symbol, three-dimensional shape or color, or a combination thereof, among those recognizable by human perception
  2. used by a person who produces goods or provides services in the course of trade, in connection with the goods or services

What is a “Mark”?

The definition of a mark is included in the definition of a trademark above.
In other words, a “mark” is anything that can be recognized by human perception, including
“a letter, figure, symbol, three-dimensional shape or color, or a combination thereof, a sound, etc.”
or combination thereof, sound, etc.

Difference between “trademark” and “mark

A “mark” is simply the mark itself.
A “mark” used for goods or services is a “trademark”.

What is “use” of a trademark?

The “use” of a trademark is defined in Article 2 of the Trademark Law.

Simply put, for example

a. The display of the trademark on goods or product packaging or the sale of such goods.
b. Attaching the trademark to uniforms used in the service industry.
c. Attaching the trademark to advertisements for products and distributing them, or having the trademark displayed on websites and advertising pages.

If the name of the new product is displayed on the package of the product or on the advertising material, it will be considered as “use” of the trademark.

The “goods” and “services” referred to here are the “goods” and “services” that were designated when the trademark application was filed.

Therefore, simply describing a registered trademark, regardless of the product for which the trademark is registered, does not constitute “use” of the trademark.
In addition, since a trademark is used in the course of business by a business person who produces and sells products or provides services, personal use of the trademark without regard to the business does not constitute “use” of the trademark.

So a “mark” is just a mark? So, if a company has created a mark, but the designated product has not yet been decided upon, and the mark is in the process of being discussed with a patent office or patent attorney, then it would be correct to call the mark a “mark” rather than a “trademark”?
Yes, it is. A proper understanding of the terms that frequently appear in trademark law is necessary for a proper understanding of trademark law.
Indeed. I’ll have to get the terms and clauses defined in the Trademark Act right before I go into practice!


In this issue, we explained the meaning of “trademark” and “mark” and the difference between them.

In addition to this, the Amazing DX guide article on this website explains the trademark system and procedures for obtaining rights, as well as the requirements for registration and the meaning of terms in an easy-to-understand manner. First, try entering a keyword in the search field! You will find many articles you would like to read.
If you are interested in learning more about trademarks, feel free to browse our guide articles!

Also, feel free to contact us to discuss your trademark application to registration!

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Supervisor for the article:
Osaka Legal Strategy Department General Manager Akinori HACHIYA
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