What is a trademark? A trademark is a source-identifier. A trademark can be any word, phrase, symbol, design, or combination of the foregoing that identifies the source of certain goods or services. Not all words are capable of functioning as trademarks. For example, generic terms can never function as trademarks. A generic term is a common term that identifies the good or service itself, rather than identifying the source of the good or service. For example, the term Apple can never be used as a trademark for apples (though it can be used as a trademark for computers).