How to Choose a Strong Trademark, Part II

27 07 2011

If you choose a weak trademark, or one that is ineligible for trademark protection, your competitors may be able to use similar marks, making it more difficult for your customers to identify your business, product, or service. Having a strong trademark makes it less likely that you will be forced into costly litigation over trademark rights later on, and more likely that any dispute that arises will be resolved in your favor. In my last post I explained that, in order to achieve maximum trademark protection, your trademark should a highly distinctive, strong trademark without any descriptive, surname or geographic connotations. The following types of trademarks are eligible for protection:

1.) The Suggestive Mark: A suggestive mark suggests, but does not describe the product or service. The customer must go through a mental process in order to associate the mark with the type of product or service it represents. An example of a suggestive mark would be “Greyhound” for fast busses, “Razr” for a thin cell phone, or Frootloops for fruit flavored cereal.

2.) The Arbitrary Mark: An arbitrary mark is one that has an ordinary meaning that is unrelated to your goods or service. This type of mark is protected even more broadly than the suggestive mark. Some examples of arbitrary trademarks are “Apple” for computers and “Amazon” for an online store.

3.) The Fanciful Mark: Fanciful marks, like arbitrary marks, enjoy the broadest protection under trademark law. This type of mark isn’t a dictionary word. Instead, a fanciful mark is a letter or number combination that has no function other than its use as your mark. Some examples of fanciful marks include KODAK, EXXON, and GOOGLE.

Attempting to register your trademark is a good idea. If your trademark is denied registration, you will have the opportunity to choose a stronger trademark before investing time and money in the development of the weaker one. Whether or not you choose to register your trademark right away, it is important to make sure that your mark is not confusingly similar to someone else’s registered mark, as the use of such a mark could subject you to liability. To do a free trademark search on your own, go to www.USPTO.gov.

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