Monday, October 12, 2009

Choosing a Trademark

Trademarks come in three basic flavors. They are, from strongest to weakest, Fanciful/Arbitrary, Suggestive and Descriptive. A fourth category, Generic, consists of those words that are too common to srve as trademarks. An example of a generic mark is aluminum foil. A suggestive mark in the same line would be Reynold's Wrap. It is suggestive because "Wrap" suggests something about the product - in this case, its use to enclose something.

If your slate is clean, an Arbitrary mark is the safest bet. An example might be "Dog" for brand of shoe polish. There is no discernable connection between the name and the product. A Suggestive name for the same product might be "Buff It!" A Descriptive name might be "Murphy's Shoe Polish". The Generic name,is of course: "Shoe Polish".

Assuming there is not a conflicting mark, the Trademark Office should have little difficulty with the Dog mark. Buff It is somewhat weaker, but still a good mark. Murphy's Shoe Polish may require some aging - a chance for the name to be associated with the product, before a registration would issue. Shoe Polish is open to all users - and hence, of little value to anyone, including the consumer.

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