Obtaining a trademark of your logo can be a daunting task if you don’t take preventive measures before registering your logo. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) may refuse your logo if the logo will cause a “likelihood of confusion” between your logo and a logo already registered or in a previously-filed pending application with the USPTO. It is best to perform a search to see if your logo is in use prior to submitting your application.
Further, it is always best to choose a “strong” logo. What is a strong logo? Generally, logos (i.e., “marks” – a term used by the USPTO and trademark attorneys) fall into one of four categories: 1) fanciful or arbitrary, 2) suggestive, 3) descriptive, or 4) generic.
- Fanciful or Arbitrary – Fanciful marks are the strongest and most easily protectable types of marks because they are more inherently distinctive. For example, “Kodak” is fanciful. Kodak sells cameras and other devices. The term Kodak has no distinct definition. Fanciful marks are invented words with no dictionary or other known meaning. Arbitrary marks, on the other hand, are actual words with a known meaning that have no association or relationship with the goods protected. For example, the term “Apple” is arbitrary. Apple (the company) does not sell apples, but sell computers and iPhones that update every year (UGH!!).
- Suggestive – Suggestive marks suggest, but do not describe, qualities or a connection to the goods or services. Suggestive marks are also considered strong marks by the USPTO. Examples of suggestive marks are Quick N’ Neat for “pie crust” or GLANCE-A-DAY for “calendars.”
- Descriptive – Typically considered as weaker marks. Descriptive marks are words or designs that describe the goods and/or services. If the USPTO determines that the mark is “merely descriptive,” then it is not registrable or protectable unless it acquires distinctiveness – generally through extensive use in commerce over a five-year period or longer. Examples include an image of a “tv” for a tv repair service.
- Generic – Typically are the weakest marks. Generic marks are not registerable and not enforceable because generic words are the common, everyday name for goods and services and everyone has the right to use such terms for their goods and services. Examples include seeking protection for the word BICYCLE for “bicycles” or “retail bicycle stores.”
Choose wisely before investing and creating a reputation behind your logo or business name.
If you have any questions you can visit our website at www.ineedpatentprotection.com