Choosing a strong mark for your business is one of the most important components of the trademark application process with the USPTO. In fact, this portion is so crucial that if you choose a mark that is considered weak, you run the risk of not being afforded trademark protection at all. The strength of your mark ultimately determines your legal protection. Here are some tips to help you choose a strong mark for your brand:
1. STEER CLEAR OF GENERIC MARKS
Generic marks are common everyday names for goods or services and are incapable of functioning as a trademark on their own. Some examples of generic marks include: “elevator,” “coffee,” “social media,” “computer,” or “smartphone.”
2. AVOID DESCRIPTIVE MARKS
Descriptive marks are those that directly describe something about the good or service. These marks generally will not receive trademark protection. An example of a descriptive mark would be “Creamy” for a brand of yogurt.
3. SURNAMES TAKE TIME TO ACHIEVE TRADEMARK PROTECTION
Entrepreneurs often like to use their surname as their business name. However, surnames are given the same treatment as descriptive marks. To be afforded protection, surnames will have to take on secondary meaning through long use.
4. SUGGESTIVE MARKS CAN WORK BUT ARE NOT THE STRONGEST
Suggestive marks are generally provided trademark protection because they are the next best things to the strongest marks, arbitrary and fanciful. These marks suggest the quality or characteristics of goods and services. Common examples of suggestive marks are “Netflix” or “Kitchenaid.”
5. YOU’RE ON THE RIGHT TRACK WITH ARBITRARY MARKS
Arbitrary marks are considered a strong mark and the USPTO will typically extend trademark protection. An Arbitrary mark is simply a word that has no connection to the meaning. The most common examples are “Apple” for computers or “Blackberry” for cellular phones.
6. FANCIFUL MARKS ARE A SURE THING
Finally, fanciful marks are considered inherently distinctive and are always given the greatest protection. A fanciful mark is a word that has no dictionary meaning, the most common being “Xerox” or “Microsoft.”
Obtaining trademark registration from the USPTO can be tricky. If you need help trademarking your brand, contact Hebert-Thomas Law, PLLC for help today!