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Why distinctiveness matters in the trademark context

On Behalf of | May 11, 2022 | Trademarks and Copyrights

A trademark can be extremely valuable to your business. It can build brand recognition and serve as a symbol of quality and goodwill. But creating and policing a mark can be more complicated endeavors than many people realize. That’s why as you navigate your intellectual property challenges, it may be best to do so with the assistance of an experienced attorney.

The greater the distinctiveness, the greater the protection

One crucial aspect of trademark law is distinctiveness. The more distinct a mark, the greater the protection that it will be afforded under the law. And distinctiveness is broken down into several categories, including each of the following:

  • Fanciful marks that are invented for the sole purpose of serving as a source-identifying mark, like Pepsi. These marks are outside of normal usage separate from the mark and the goods and services it identifies.
  • Arbitrary marks which use common terms but don’t describe the goods or services in question. Apple, when used for computers, is a good example of an arbitrary mark.
  • Suggestive marks are those marks that require some thought or imagination to determine the nature of the goods or services in question.
  • Descriptive marks, which merely describe an ingredient or characteristic of the goods or services. These marks typically don’t receive protection.
  • Generic terms, which cannot serve as marks because their use is so prevalent in common language that they don’t serve a source-identifying purpose.

Dealing with distinctiveness issues with your mark

Distinctiveness can be an issue when you try to register your mark, but it can also become the focal point of litigation if you decide to bring an infringement lawsuit. Therefore, there can be a lot on the line when dealing with this and other intellectual property-related issues, which is why you may want to discuss the circumstances of your case with an attorney before proceeding forward with your case.