A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party – a party being an individual or a company – from the goods of other parties. Trademarks need not actually be registered with a state or the federal government to be legally recognized as such. Trademarks arise from use under the common law. What this means is that any individual or company can come up with any unique mark – with the word unique being very important – and use that mark to sell the party’s goods. Although registration isn’t required, registration does allow parties that receive registration additional rights in the marks. One of these rights is that the owner of the registered mark will be able to pursue additional damages against any third parties that may use the same or a similar mark on that party’s goods, thus infringing upon the trademark. Most parties with trademarks register the trademarks at the federal level, through the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). However, each state also allows owners of trademarks to register their trademarks on a state level. If, for instance, a party is unable to obtain registration on the federal level, and that party is a smaller, local company, then registration on a state level may be a worthwhile idea. Service marks are similar to trademarks, in that they identify and distinguish the source of services of one party from the services of other parties. Service marks and trademarks are often referred to synonymously as trademarks.