If you have a logo or slogan that consumers tie to your business, then you have valuable intellectual property. This is one of the best ways to build brand awareness and loyalty. That’s why it’s important to protect these marks and ensure that they aren’t losing or value or being exploited by someone else. But before you can get trademark protection, you have to understand distinctiveness and the role it plays in trademark protections.
A brief look at distinctiveness
In basic terms, marks that are more distinctive are given more protection under federal law. This means that trademarks are broken down into certain classifications of distinctiveness. Those with the most protection are those that are fanciful, meaning that they have been created for the sole purpose of marketing the good or service in question. These marks aren’t used in everyday usage outside of the context of that good or service.
Arbitrary marks also enjoy extensive protections and are common words, phrases, and other marks that are commonly used but are used in a different way when describing the goods or services in question. The best example of an arbitrary mark is Apple for the computer company.
Suggestive marks require some use of imagination on the part of the consumer to link the mark to the goods or services, which means that they might have strong protections or not depending on the strength of the suggestion and the link to the goods or services. This differs from merely descriptive marks, which just identify an ingredient characteristic, or feature of the goods or services. These descriptive marks generally aren’t given trademark protection.
Know how to protect your interests
The strength of your trademark depends on a lot of factors, including its distinctiveness and its source-identifying power. But a mark is only as strong as your policing of it, as a misappropriated mark that goes unchecked can damage your reputation and water down the power of your brand. Therefore, if you have questions about trademarks and how to best utilize them for your business, then you might want to discuss the matter with an experienced intellectual property attorney of your choosing.