A trademark is a brand name. A trademark or service mark includes any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination, used or intended to be used to identify and distinguish the goods/services of one seller or provider from those of others, and to indicate the source of the goods/services. Although federal registration of a trademark is not mandatory, it has several advantages, including notice to the public of the registrant’s claim of ownership of the mark, legal presumption of ownership nationwide, and exclusive right to use the trademark on or in connection with the goods/services listed in the registration.
Before starting the application process, it is important to have clearly in mind: the trademark you want to register; the goods and/or services in connection with which you wish to register the trademark; and whether you will be filing the application based on actual existing use of the trademark or a bona fide intention to use the trademark in the future.
Once you have chosen your trademark, you must also be able to identify the goods and/or services to which the trademark will apply, clearly and precisely. The identification of goods and/or services must be specific enough to identify the nature of the goods and/or services. The level of specificity depends on the type of goods and/or services.
A trademark application must specify the proper basis for filing, most likely either a current use of the trademark in commerce or on an intent to use the trademark in commerce in the future.
You are responsible for enforcing your rights if you receive a registration, because the USPTO does not “police” the use of trademarks. While the USPTO attempts to ensure that no other party receives a federal registration for an identical or similar trademark for or as applied to related goods/services, the owner of a registration is responsible for bringing any legal action to stop a party from using an infringing trademark.
More information on trademarks may be found at the USPTO.