The owner of a registered trademark may commence legal proceedings for trademark infringement to prevent unauthorized use of that trademark. However, in some countries unregistered rights in a sign may also be enforced. These are often known as ‘common law’ rights. An unregistered sign is usually only protected within the geographical area within which it has been used or in geographical areas into which it may be reasonably expected to expand.
The term trademark is also used informally to refer to any distinguishing attribute by which an individual is readily identified, such as the well-known characteristics of celebrities. When a trademark is used in relation to services rather than products, it may sometimes be called a service mark, particularly in the United Arab Emirates.