A trademark can give you brand recognition in a crowded marketplace and generate goodwill with your client base. That said, there are many factors that contribute to the enforceability of a trademark, which can have direct ramifications on your ability to police your mark and protect your business interests. One of those aspects is distinctiveness.
The basics of trademark distinctiveness
Trademark distinctiveness refers to a mark’s ability to identify its related goods or services as well as its ability to distinguish them from others. Therefore, the more distinct your mark, the greater protection it’ll be afforded. In fact, some marks lack distinctiveness to the point that they can’t be protected. So, where does your mark fall?
To determine whether a mark can be registered or otherwise be protected from infringement, an analysis is conducted to determine which of the following classes of distinctiveness it falls into:
- Fanciful marks, which are invented and had no meaning prior to being attached to the goods or services in question.
- Arbitrary marks, which use a common word but in a meaningless way when looked at in context of the good or services, such as “Apple” for computer goods.
- Suggestive marks, which identify some characteristic of the goods or service but requires some imagination on the part of the consumer to connect it to the specific goods or services being referenced, such as Blu-ray.
- Descriptive marks, which use a word to describe a product and that product is directly related to the meaning of the word used.
- Generic marks, which are the commonly used name for the product or services.
Fanciful, arbitrary, and suggestive marks are registerable and receive a good amount of protection. While generic marks receive no protection, descriptive marks can be registerable if it can be shown that the mark has acquired a secondary meaning linking it to the products or services in question.
Confidently navigate your intellectual property issues
As you can see, intellectual property issues can quickly become complicated. Yet, you need to know how to navigate them if you want to protect your business interests. That’s why now is a good time to educate yourself about the steps you need to take to ensure that your intellectual property is strong, protectable, and appropriately policed.